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Travel Environment Alert - Asia / Pacific.

New York (AirGuide - Travel Environment Watch Asia / Pacific) Aug 8, 2010

More than 2,100 dead, missing in China floods The number of people killed or missing in devastating floods across China this year has risen to more than 2,100, according to the government, as weather authorities warn of yet more rain. The nation's civil affairs ministry said late Friday 1,454 people had died in floods this year, another 669 were still missing and more than 12 million had been evacuated from their homes. Large swathes of China have been hit by summer deluges that have triggered the worst floods in a decade, caused countless deadly landslides and swollen many large rivers to dangerous levels. According to the ministry, 1.4 million homes have been destroyed by the floods that have also caused 275 billion yuan (41 billion dollars) in direct economic losses. These official figures cover the entire year so far, and it is therefore unclear how many people have died or gone missing in the more recent, summer floods. Aug 7, 2010

Thai energy minister rejects oil drilling protest Thailand plans to move ahead with oil exploration off the coast of the popular tourist island of Samui despite protests from environmentalists and pleas from the tourism industry, its energy minister said Thursday. "I believe that energy and tourism can move forward together," Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul said, rejecting calls to scrap plans to operate four offshore drilling rigs. He said the objections were based on a "misunderstanding." The government risked legal problems if it annulled the exploration contracts without justification, Wannarat said. The drilling would take place in exploration blocks belonging to Chevron and three smaller oil companies: NuCoastal _ a wholly owned subsidiary of London-headquartered Coastal Energy Company _ Salamander Energy of the U.K., and Pearl Oil Thailand, part of Singapore-based Pearl Energy, a subsidiary of the UAE's Mubadala Development Company. It's unclear which will do the drilling. Aug 6, 2010

Tap water in south China town contaminated Some 10,000 residents in a southern China town have been told not to drink tap water after tests showed it was contaminated by a heavy metal, a local official said Wednesday. Tests showed the amount of manganese in the water supply to some residents of Da'an town in Guangdong province was much higher than the maximum allowed by the government, said a town official who only gave his surname, Wang. The official Xinhua News Agency said the level of manganese in the water was 12 times higher than the government safety level, which allows 0.1 milligrams per liter (2.1 pints). Heavy metals are a category of elements often used during industrial processes that can be toxic to human health. Though small amounts of manganese are essential to the body, chronic exposure to large amounts can cause neurological problems, including hallucinations, forgetfulness and nerve damage. Emergency notices were put out Tuesday in the town, warning residents not to drink tap water until further notice, Xinhua said. "We're trying to remedy the situation and will keep you posted," said one notice. Environmental pollution in China has increased in recent years as the country's rapid economic development continues virtually unchecked. Industrial disasters are common, with several major incidents in recent weeks, including a massive oil spill off the northeastern coast and a chemical spill when barrels of toxins were swept by floodwaters into the Songhua River. Aug 5, 2010

Rising river, rising fears Traders in the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong, along with tourists who usually come to gawk at North Korea just across the Yalu River, are watching with alarm as the rising waters of the river threaten flood defenses at the hub of trade between China and the North. Should rains continue and the floodwall break, disruption will be felt immediately on both sides of the border - and even on worldwide rice markets. Aug 5, 2010

Sembcorp Marine says Q2 net profit up 28 percent Sembcorp Marine, the world's number two oil rig builder based in Singapore, reported on Tuesday a better-than-expected 28 percent rise in second quarter net profit, helped by higher margins and earlier completion of projects. The company, 61 percent owned by Sembcorp Industries, earned SIN176.1 million in the April-June period, up from SIN138.1 million a year ago. The result beats the SIN141.6 million forecast of two analysts surveyed by Reuters. Sembcorp said its orderbook stood at SIN4.3 billion. Aug 4, 2010

Japanese-Kazakh ties go nuclear Japan, the world's third-biggest producer of nuclear energy, is looking to cut its transport costs of Kazakhstan uranium by moving it through Russia's far east rather then west to Canada. With related agreements and rising global demand for uranium, Tokyo and Astana both stand to gain from their growing nuclear energy cooperation. Aug 3, 2010

Cruise ship hits humpback whale. A cruise ship traveling from Seattle to Alaska had to wait to dock in Juneau, Alaska, until a dead whale could be removed from its bow. The ship, owned by Princess Cruises, returned to Seattle on Sunday. Scientists are conducting a necropsy on the whale, a 43-foot female humpback, to determine whether she was killed by the ship's impact or if she was already injured or dead when the ship hit her. Aug 2, 2010

Trash threatens to jam China's Three Gorges dam Layers of trash floating in the Yangtze river are threatening to jam China's massive Three Gorges hydroelectric dam, state media reported Monday. The garbage is so thick in parts of the river that people can walk on the surface, reports said. Nearly three tonnes of refuse are collected from the dam every day, but operators are struggling with inadequate manpower and equipment as trash accumulates more quickly due to rain-triggered floods, the China Daily reported. Aug 2, 2010

Nine dead, seven trapped in central China coal mine Nine workers were killed and seven others trapped after lethal gas leaked into a coal mine in central China, a state news agency said Tuesday. A "gas outburst" occurred at 11:19 p.m. Monday at the Sanyuandong Coal Mine in Dengfeng, a city in Henan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It reported 127 miners were underground and 111 escaped unharmed, according to an official with the Zhengzhou Coal Industry Co. Ltd., which runs the mine. The company could not be reached by phone. Calls to the coal management bureau and the propaganda office of the Communist Party in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, which oversees Dengfeng, rang unanswered. Aug 2, 2010

Floods cut water supply to 300,000 in NE China Heavy rains damaged water pipelines supplying an industrial city in northeastern China's Jilin province, cutting drinking water to about 300,000 residents, the Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. Officials in Tonghua, about 50 km from the North Korean border, could not say when water would be restored and were supplying residents with bottled water and food. Details of how the pipes were damaged were unclear. But Wang Ruimin, head of the public utility bureau in Tonghua, said water overflowed a reservoir and rushed into Tonghua's water treatment plant on Saturday, adding that the pipes were damaged on Sunday, Xinhua said. Jilin province is the latest region to suffer from torrential rains that have racked many parts of China. More than 100 people have been reported dead or missing in the province due to floods and landslides over the past few days. Last week, water supplies were temporarily cut in Jilin, a city of about 4.5 million people located 250 km to the north, after a flood washed thousands of barrels of chemicals from a factory into the area's main river. Aug 2, 2010

Taiwan authorities probe oil refinery fires Taiwanese authorities said Saturday they were investigating the cause of two blazes that broke out in less than a month at the island's main oil refinery, amid growing safety concerns. Prosecutors will look into whether Formosa Petrochemical Corp. endangered public safety, after the incidents triggered panic of nearby residents, the United Evening News said. The probe came after Premier Wu Den-yih on Friday ordered the company to suspend operations at one of its refining units, in Mailiao in western Taiwan, pending safety checks. The company, an affiliate of Taiwan's leading industrial conglomerate, Formosa Plastics Group, has three refining units in Mailiao that host the island's biggest petrochemical complex. The shutdown is estimated to cost it at least 20 billion Taiwan dollars (625 million US) in monthly revenue, the report said. The company was also ordered to compensate local farmers who said heavy smoke from the fires had ruined their rice paddies and fisheries. Angry local residents held several protests after the second blaze broke out on Sunday to demand the company stop its ongoing expansion plans. Aug 1, 2010

Worst floods in a decade in China, 30,000 trapped Floods caused by heavy rains in northeastern China stranded tens of thousands of residents without power Wednesday, as the worst flooding in more than a decade continued to besiege many areas of the country. Floods this year have killed at least 928 people with 477 missing and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, the State Flood Control and Drought Prevention office reported. More heavy rains were expected for the southeast, southwest and northeast parts of the country through Thursday. About 30,000 residents in Kouqian town were trapped in their homes after torrential rains drenched the northeastern province of Jilin on Wednesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Water began flooding the town after the nearby Xingshan Reservoir and the Wende and Songhua rivers overflowed and rescue crews were delivering supplies by boat and moving people to higher ground, state television reported. Flooding has hit areas all over China. Thousands of workers sandbagged riverbanks and checked reservoirs in preparation for potential floods expected to flow from the swollen Yangtze and Han rivers, an official with the Yangtze Water Resources Commission said Wednesday. He gave only his surname, Zhang, as is common with Chinese officials. Jul 29, 2010

Floods wash chemicals into northeast China river Workers began cleaning up a chemical spill in northeastern China on Thursday after more than 3,000 containers of chemicals were washed into a river by the worst floods to hit the country in more than decade. The buckets, containing a flammable chemical used to make rubber and adhesives, tumbled into the Songhua River near Jilin city in Jilin province after a flood swept through a local factory, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Only about 400 buckets had been recovered as of Thursday morning. The Jilin environmental protection agency and water bureau fanned out around the city testing water sources and checking for possible leaks in the barrels, said an official with the Jilin Water Bureau. She refused to give her name as is common with Chinese officials. "Some residents are worried, but we have yet to find any leaks in the barrels of chemicals, so they should not be worried about their water quality," the official said. The Songhua has had environmental problems before. In 2005 carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene, spilled into the river, forcing the northeastern city of Harbin to sever water supplies to 3.8 million people for five days. Floods this year have killed at least 928 people, left 477 missing and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, the State Flood Control and Drought Prevention office reported. More heavy rains were expected for the southeast, southwest and northeast parts of the country through Friday. Jul 29, 2010

US goes fishing for trouble China's ambiguous expression of the South China Sea as a "core interest" adds to evidence that it has been unable to summon the fortitude to pursue a reasonable resolution of conflicting claims. Once more into the diplomatic breach steps the United States. Jul 28, 2010

China says oil spill under control China said Monday an oil spill on the northeast coast had been successfully controlled as reports said operations at the port where it originated were returning to normal. The spill began 10 days ago when two pipelines exploded at an oil storage depot in Dalian, a port city in Liaoning province, triggering a spectacular blaze that burned for days. About 1,500 tonnes of oil poured into the Yellow Sea, according to official estimates. Jul 27, 2010

Flooding causes China bridge to collapse, killing 37 A flood-swollen river caused a village bridge to collapse in central China, killing at least 37 people, and officials warned the region to prepare for more rains this week, media reported on Tuesday. Another 19 people were still missing, the local Dahe newspaper reported on its website,, after a 153-metre-long bridge in mountainous Luanchuan county in the central province of Henan collapsed on Saturday afternoon. Most of the people on the bridge were tossed into the river, raging after weeks of torrential rains, but six people were rescued, according to the report. Jul 27, 2010

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Title Annotation:briefs
Comment:Travel Environment Alert - Asia / Pacific.(briefs)
Publication:Airguide Online
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Aug 9, 2010
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