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Canadian authorities to airlift 25,000 to safety as wildfires spread in Fort McMurray

Gorkha Post

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ALBERTA — Canadian are preparing  to airlift up to 25,000 individuals who were forced north of their homes by the raging Alberta forest fires in Fort McMurray and now risk being trapped.

Carried out with government and petroleum industry aircraft, an airlift began on Thursday (local time) for the first 8,000 people.

The goal is to move those people south of the city as quickly as possible as the fire grows to more than 85,000 hectares, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.

“Right now we are working with industry to do as much air evacuation as possible and we are doing everything we can to establish — open the highways so we can get fuel up there and then get those folks moving south as quickly as we can,” Ms Notley said.

“This is a large fire … but the key issue is that we protect infrastructure and the community.”

The wildfire forced all 88,000 people to flee the western Canadian oil city of Fort McMurray and burned down at least 1,600 structures, including homes and motels.

Hot, dry, windy weather has made the massive wildfire all but impossible to control.

The damage from the blazes is major and there is no way to predict when any evacuees can go home,” she said. “Unfortunately, we do know that it will not be a matter of days,” she told a news conference.

“It is apparent that the damage to the community in Fort McMurray is extensive, and the city is not safe for residents at this time.”

Ms Notley said authorities would work to find lodging for evacuees and move forward to get children back to school in other cities.

“I understand the Albertans are scared, tired, and worried about their homes and what the future holds for themselves and their families,” she said.

About 25,000 people are being moved from north of the city to the south after they fled their homes on Monday — they headed north because the road south is blocked by the fire.

AFP

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Magnitude 8.2 quake rattles Fiji

Thompson Reuters

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A massive quake of magnitude 8.2 struck in the Pacific Ocean close to Fiji and Tonga on Sunday but it was so deep that it was not expected to cause any damage, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The US Tsunami Warning Center also said the quake was too deep to cause a tsunami.

The quake was 347.7 miles (560 km) below the Earth which would have dampened the shaking at the surface.

“I would not expect any damage. People will feel it but it’s so deep that I would not expect any damage,” USGS geophysicist Jana Pursley said by telephone.

The quake was initially reported as a magnitude 8.0 and then upgraded to 8.2, a magnitude that could cause tremendous damage had it not been so deep.

The epicenter was located 167 miles (270 km) east of Levuka in Fiji and 275 miles (443 km) west of Neiafu in Tonga.

The area is located on the earthquake-prone Ring of Fire.

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