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Canada wildfire out of control

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FORT MCMURRAY — A ferocious wildfire wreaking havoc in Canada doubled in size and officials warned that the situation in the parched Alberta oil sands region was ‘unpredictable and dangerous.”

“This remains a big, out of control, dangerous fire,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said of the raging inferno bigger than London.

Winds were pushing the flares east of the epicenter around the oil city late Saturday, as almost each of the 25,000 individuals who were still caught toward the north at last left town, either by means of transport or guards on the streets.

The fire has forced the evacuation of the city of Fort McMurray.

The wildfire had doubled in size in one day, covering more than 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) by midnight and continuing to grow, the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said in an update late Saturday.

“Fire conditions remain extreme,” it said.

Low humidity, high temperatures nearing 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and gusty winds of 40 kilometers (25 miles) in forests and brush dried out from two months of drought are helping fan the flames.

Still, in a glimmer of positive news, the authorities have recorded no fatalities directly linked to the blaze that began almost a week ago.

Cooler, moist air with some chance of rainfall could help slow the fires in the coming days, Alberta Fire Service director Chad Morrison said.

However, “we need heavy rain,” he cautioned. “Showers are not enough.”

The only “good news,” he said, was that the wind was pushing the fires away from Fort McMurray and oil production sites to the northeast, presenting less threat to people although causing serious damage to the environment.

The government has declared a state of emergency in Alberta, a province the size of France that is home to one of the world’s most prodigious oil industries.

In the latest harrowing chapter, police convoys shuttling cars south to safety through Fort McMurray resumed at dawn.

Making their way through thick, black smoke, the cars were filled with people trapped to the north of the city, having sought refuge there earlier in the week.

Police wearing face masks formed convoys of 25 cars, with kilometers (miles) of vehicles, smoke swirling around them, patiently awaiting their turn.

Separate convoys of trucks carried essential equipment to support “critical industrial services,” according to the Alberta government.

With elevated risk that something could go wrong, the convoys along Highway 63 were reduced in size compared to the previous day.

Those being evacuated — for a second time, after first abandoning their homes — had fled to an area north of the city where oil companies have lodging camps for workers.

But officials concluded they were no longer safe there because of shifting winds that raised the risk of them becoming trapped, and needed to move south to other evacuee staging grounds and eventually to Edmonton, 400 kilometers away.

Some 2,400 vehicles made it to safety on Friday.

AFP

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Bir Hospital to get new surgery building

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KATHMANDU— The oldest hospital of the country, Bir Hospital, is in the process of getting a separate well-equipped building for surgery within the next two years.

The proposed nine-storey building will have 15 operation theaters.
The new building will have a post-operative ward; a 40-bed surgical ward; an Intensive Care Union (ICU); and a library as well. The new infrastructure will also have the facilities friendly to the senior citizens, disabled and the visitors, the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) says.

It is estimated to cost Rs 3.85 billion to complete the construction in two years. It is being constructed in an area of the old building of the NAMS nursing college which collapsed in the 2015 April earthquake. The building construction was inaugurated by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on March 9.

The hospital that had started its services in 1947 BS with 15 beds has now 450 beds. The NAMS operates Nursing, MBBS, MD classes and training as well.

The post of NAMS Chancellor has been lying vacant since the past five months. As shared by an employee, the delay in appointing the chancellor has caused inconveniences to the operation of hospital regular activities.

Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr Sushilnath Pyakurel, said the recommendations have been already made before the minister to make appointments in the posts lying vacant in various health academies.

Similarly, infrastructures are being developed to upgrade the hospital by adding extra services including a helipad service for the first time from the government level.

The hospital has started its service from its branch at Duwakot of Bhaktapur from October 10 as part of its service expansion in line with the policy of the Ministry of Health.

The Duwakot branch provides OPD and surgery at present. OPD service starts from 9 am to 5 pm. The NAMS has permitted the construction of well equipped physical infrastructure for the hospital branch to provide international standard service, said the Hospital’s Director Prof Dr Bhupendra Basnet.

The Ministry of Health has allocated Rs 300 million as per the master plan of the NAMS and provided approximately 570 ropanis of land for the construction of physical infrastructures for the hospital branch.

“Necessary human resources including a medical officer, nurses and assistant health workers have been managed for the hospital branch. Medical equipment and other workforce that includes specialist doctors will also be managed as per need,” said Basnet.

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