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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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Govt to present its policies and programmes Monday

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KATHMANDU — The government is preparing to present its policies and programs for the fiscal year 2018/19 at the Federal Parliament on Monday.

According to Joint Spokesperson at the Federal Parliament Secretariat Keshav Aryal, all preparations are over for the release of the government policies and programs to be made by the President Bidya Devi Bhandari from New Baneshwor-based Federal Parliament Building at 4:00 pm Monday.

President Bhandari would unveil the government policies and programs for the first time in the joint meeting of the Federal Parliament after the promulgation of the new constitution.

As per the constitution, the President can address any of the House meeting or the joint meeting of the Federal Parliaments and summon the lawmakers for their presence.

Vice President, top leaders of different political parties, high-ranking government officials, chiefs of the constitutional bodies, chiefs of the security bodies and chiefs of the diplomatic missions in Nepal are invited for the program.

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