A terrifying environmental calamity has engulfed the Solomon Islands after a bulk carrier ran aground in last month’s cyclone Oma, threatening the future of a sensitive UNESCO World Heritage site.
The government of the small island nation has demanded urgent assistance in controlling the spill, which has already leaked over 80 tons of oil into the sea and surrounding shoreline and continues to gush into the nearby coral reef, causing a devastating impact on the environmentally sensitive region.
On February 5, the Hong Kong-flagged Solomon Trader, built in 1994, was loading bauxite from a mine on Rennell Island before the cyclone sank the ship onto a coral reef.
Over 660 tons of oil remain on board the leaking vessel along with the ship’s full load of bauxite, the key ore used to make aluminum. The ship was chartered with Indonesian company Bintan Mining Solomon Islands Limited, but its ownership remains unclear.
According to @guardian, the oil is yet to reach East Rennell which is a @UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia are assisting the Solomon Islands government in dealing with the situationhttps://t.co/iIRcjCzVd3
⏬#Sentinel2🇪🇺🛰️view of Rennell Island pic.twitter.com/KeSEd4boaT
— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) March 1, 2019
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has expressed that it was “profoundly disappointed” by the slow response to the unfolding catastrophe, according to the Associated Press.
The spill also threatens to eventually spread to East Rennell, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest raised coral atoll in the world. UNESCO officials had called the site “a true natural laboratory” for scientific study – and one which faces danger due to logging and overfishing in the area. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is working with Solomon authorities in hopes of assisting in damage control.
A source with close knowledge of the incident told The Guardian:
“Once it hits rock the heavy fuel oil is effectively like a bitumen-like substance and has to be removed by hand.”
While Australian officials warn that it remains high’y likely that the oil will be “released” into the sea, salvage crews have scrambled to mitigate the damage and pump the remaining oil from the ship before it breaks up.
“All of the evidence indicates very little prospect of imminent action that would involve getting the oil off the vessel and preventing the ongoing spill,” the source added.
In the meantime, Bauxite mining operations by the company have continued unimpeded. Officials from the Solomon maritime administration have been interviewing mining management officials, however, and are expected to halt the company’s operations.
About 2,000 people live on Rennell Island and rely on the surrounding ocean, as well as its abundant natural resources, for their livelihoods. The island is also home to a number of unique species, including such birds as the bare-eyed white eye, the Rennell shrikebill, the Solomons white ibis and the rare venomous sea krait Laticauda crockeri.
“The impact of this oil spill will have a devastating effect on the surrounding environment, including potentially on a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the livelihood of the people of Rennell,” Australian high commissioner Rod Brazier said.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.