Best of our wild blogs: 8 Nov 16

FREE Nature Walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk - November and December
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Journey's End with Ficus superba
Flying Fish Friends

Green Drinks: Where Do We Go From Here?
Green Drinks Singapore

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All pet dogs must be licensed before sale from early 2017: AVA

Channel NewsAsia 7 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will amend dog licensing rules in early 2017 such that all dogs intended for sale by pet businesses must be licensed before they are sold, it said in a press release on Monday (Nov 7).

Currently, dogs intended for sale by pet businesses are not required to be licensed to the pet businesses. Under the new rules, when a dog is sold, pet businesses will be required to transfer the ownership of the dog to the new owner via AVA’s online portal for pet licensing - the Pet Animal Licensing System (PALS).

To make it more convenient for dog farms and pet shops to comply with the revised licensing requirements, they will be able to register multiple dogs intended for sale under a single “Group” licence. The licensing fees will be tiered according to the maximum number of dogs intended for sale, AVA stated.

The revisions will improve the traceability of pet dogs in event of a disease outbreak such as rabies, and help AVA reunite lost dogs with their owners, the authority said.

"The revisions will also strengthen the accountability of pet businesses and dog owners for their dogs, further safeguarding them against abandonment," said AVA CEO Tan Poh Hong. "AVA is working closely with affected pet businesses to prepare them for the changes, and address any issues encountered, to ensure a smooth rollout of these revisions. They will be given sufficient time to adjust their processes to comply with the new requirements," she added.

- CNA/am

Pet businesses will soon have to license dogs before sale: AVA
WONG PEI TING Today Online 7 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE – All dogs sold by pet shops, importers and farms will soon have to be licensed with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), even before they are sold.

AVA will be implementing the change to dog licensing rules from early next year. In addition, under the new rules, once a dog is sold, the ownership of the dog will have to be transferred to the new owner.

Such a move, AVA said, ensures that pet dogs are traceable in case of disease outbreak such as rabies. It will also help to discourage pet abandonment and assist the authorities reunite lost dogs with their owners.

Currently, dogs intended for sale are not required to be licensed to the pet businesses.

The revisions, said AVA chief executive officer Tan Poh Hong, will “strengthen the accountability of pet businesses and dog owners for their dogs, further safeguarding them against abandonment”.

He added that the agency is working closely with affected pet businesses to ensure a smooth roll-out of these revisions, and will be given sufficient time to comply with the new requirements.

To make it easier for pet businesses, they will be able to register multiple dogs intended for sale under a single “group” licence, with licensing fees tiered according to the maximum number of dogs intended for sale.

The transfer of ownership can also be done via the AVA’s online portal for pet licensing.

Calling the rule change a “long awaited, long needed move”, Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) president Ricky Yeo said animal welfare groups like ASD, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Animal Lovers League had been pushing for it for some five years now.

The 48-year-old added that he has seen a rising number of dog abandonment cases, from one to two cases every few months five years ago, to one to two cases involving pedigree dogs every month now.

He said the compulsory microchipping of dogs, introduced seven years ago, was not very useful in preventing dog abandonment as it was not mandated by law that owners’ particulars had to be updated.

This new licensing requirement, he said, will make pet businesses “compelled to follow through with the transfer of licensing”, otherwise, they remain liable for the dog’s well-being.

Animal Lovers League founder Cathy Strong said licensing dogs at the point of sale is the “only way to nip the problem (of pet abandonment) in the bud”.

Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, SPCA’s executive director, said that it is not uncommon to find a dog with a microchip that’s not registered in AVA’s system. Some 200 unclaimed pet dogs are left at the SPCA every year on average, and most of these animals have microchips that cannot be traced back to their owners, he added.

Home breeders, who are currently unregulated, will slip through the cracks as well, despite the new rules. “The new licensing rules does not apply to them and they continue to remain a loophole in the system,” said Dr Jaipal.

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Malaysia: Fishermen’s livelihood affected by illegal sand mining

T. AVINESHWARAN The Star 8 Nov 16;

LUMUT: Teluk Senangin is a haven for shrimp fishing, but illegal sand mining has affected the livelihood of its fishermen.

They claimed that their nets were being damaged by debris left behind by the dredging vessels.

Mohamad Saufi Ahmad, 24, said two tugboats, a barge and three sand dredgers appeared about one nautical mile away from the beach two weeks ago.

Another fisherman, Radhi Hashim, 44, thought nothing of it until he saw sand on the vessels.

Speaking to reporters, the fishermen said they felt something amiss and decided to record a video of the vessels’ activities on Nov 3 before forwarding the evidence to the authorities.

When the vessels did not show up the next day, they decided to go fishing for shrimps but had their nets damaged by old logs.

The shrimp population had also dropped, they claimed.

Safie Mohamad Akhir, 38, said sand mining activities would stir up logs from beneath the seabed.

“My fishing net was destroyed today when it got entangled with a log,” he said, estimating his loss to be between RM200 and RM300.

Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Noor, 27, said he recorded a drop of 10kg in his catch.

“Prior to this, I could get up to 20kg of seafood daily but now I count myself lucky if I can get 10kg,” he said.

Mohamad Saufi said the miners must have known about his report to the authorities as they had not returned to the site.

He added that Teluk Senangin had an abundance of prawns, crab and fishes such as senangin and bawal.

Manjung district officer Mohd Fariz Mohamad Hanip confirmed that no mining permits had been issued to vessels.

“Therefore, the activities conducted by these miners are illegal,” he said.

He added that the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department were investigating the matter.

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Malaysia: Malacca to gazette Padang Kemunting stretch as turtle sanctuary

KELLY KOH New Straits Times 7 Nov 16;

ALOR GAJAH: The Malacca government is taking a more serious approach in the conservation of turtles with a proposal to gazette the stretch of beach along Padang Kemunting to Air Hitam Darat as a turtle sanctuary.

Tanjung Bidara assemblyman Datuk Md Rawi Mahmud said the proposal would forbid night activities along the 800-metre stretch of beach, following concerns of a dwindling number of turtle landings in the state.

"We are concerned that night activities such as light pollution along the beach would hinder the chances of turtles landing on the beach.

"Paperwork will be forwarded to the State Economic Planning Unit where the proposal would be discussed in the state executive council meeting.

"We do not have a time frame in doing so, but we are committed towards materialising this proposal because we do not want more places which were once turtle landing sites to perish like the one in Rantau Abang, Terengganu," he told reporters at the rangers appreciation day at the Turtle Conservation and Information Centre in Padang Kemunting in Masjid Tanah, here, today.

Rawi stressed on the importance on protecting turtles after the state recorded a decline in the number of turtle landings from 481 in 2013 to 367 landings this year.

The overall turtle landings in the state in 2013 was 481, 2014 (436 landings), 2015 (418 landings) and 367 as of October this year, noting that the peak season for turtle landings is usually between March and September.

State Fisheries Department director Mohd Ghazali A. Manap attributed the decline to the deaths of turtles, saying that for every 1,000 turtles released to the sea, only one adult turtle successfully returned to Malacca beach to lay eggs, according to an international study.

He also did not deny that coastal reclamation was another cause of decline in turtle landings.

Pulau Upeh, which used to be the largest hawksbill turtle nesting ground in Peninsular Malaysia, and the second largest in the country after Sabah's Turtle Island, continues to see a decline in the number of turtle landings from 111 in 2011 to only 13 this year.

The number of turtle landings in Pulau Upeh in 2008 was 108, 2009 (72 landings), 2010 (83 landings), 2011 (111 landings), 2012 (36 landings), 2013 (51 landings), 2014 (45 landings) and 15 last year.

Ghazali added that the percentage of turtle hatching success also declined from 57.87 per cent last year to 39.71 per cent this year.

"But we may be able to catch up as there are another 4,549 turtle eggs in incubation to be hatched in 90 days' time to achieve our target of 80 percent hatching success under National Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sea Turtles," he said.

On cases of stolen turtle eggs, he said the department had identified between two to three culprits involved in the activity and the department is working closely with the police to arrest them.

Between April and September this year, turtle eggs from 105 nests (or 28 percent) were stolen out of the number of turtle eggs from 379 nests, with the highest turtle eggs theft cases recorded in Padang Kemunting.

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Malaysia: Heavy rains wreak havoc in Penang

The Star 8 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government has approved an emergency funding of RM665,000 for flood mitigation works after heavy rains lashed the island, causing landslides, road collapses, floods and fallen trees in many places, leaving thousands stranded as traffic was reduced to a snail’s crawl.

State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state had approved the amount for the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to carry out seven immediate short-term flood mitigation projects as a RM350mil allocation they had asked for from the Federal Government was not forthcoming.

The state has been hit by floods four times over the last 10 days, with many landslides and road collapses. Even the upper Penang Hill Rail station was hit by the rains with the deluge causing a landslide there. Luckily, the hill rail service was not disrupted.

Among the areas flooded yesterday were Kampung Dodol, Kampung Makam, Jalan Sungai Dua, Jalan Thean Teik, Jalan Scotland, Lorong Batu Lanchang, Dhoby Ghaut, Jalan Datuk Keramat, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Lumba Kuda, Jalan Mesjid Negeri, Kampung Mutiara and Jalan Perak.

Students of SMK Abdullah Munshi in Jalan P. Ramlee, especially those sitting for their SPM exams, were forced to get off their schoolbuses and were ferried by boats to the schools to sit for their exams.

Landslides were reported in Jalan Ujung Batu in Teluk Bahang and part of Jalan Paya Terubong in Relau. Some 200m from the landslide in Jalan Ujung Batu, a section of the road cracked and collapsed on its side.

Traffic from Jalan Tun Sardon in Balik Pulau heading to Relau had to be redirected to Paya Terubong because of the landslide, causing a massive traffic jam.

Access to both Jalan Ujung Batu and Jalan Paya Terubong were cut off while there was also a sinking road at the hilly route from the Kek Lok Si Temple to the Air Itam dam.

A video went viral of a landslide on a small hill near the Penang Hill’s Upper Station, showing a worker scooping out muddy water while several others were clearing the place of mud.

Penang Hill’s acting general manager Datuk Ng Wee Kok confirmed the incident, adding that it happened at about 2am yesterday.

“Our workers started cleaning the station at about 7am and managed to clear the station of ankle-deep water and mud within an hour.

“The landslide caused the rainwater to flow into the Upper Station,” he said, adding that there was no disruption to the funicular train services.

Chow, commenting on the state’s allocation, said: “It will help mitigate the situation especially in the flood-prone areas. The project will start soon and is expected to take between two and three weeks.”

After the recent deluge on Deepavali day, the state had pushed for the RM350mil allocation from the Federal Government for the second phase of the flood mitigation project.

Chow said the landslide in Jalan Ujung Batu in Teluk Bahang was due to natural slope failure.

“Continuous downpour soaked the soil on the hill and it just slipped. It has nothing to do with any development as there is none on the top of the hill,” he said.

Teluk Bahang assemblyman Datuk Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain Shah said 70% of Teluk Bahang was flooded yesterday including Kampung Bukit Kecil and Kampung Taman Manggis which started to submerge around 1am.

“I urge the local authorities to look into the possibility of over development,” he said.

An expert in environment from Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Humanities said development and land clearing were the two main reasons Penang was constantly being hit by floods and landslides.

Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng said there were many reasons for the flash floods of late.

“Development is one of the causes as changing land use from green areas to urban built-up areas has reduced permeable surfaces.

“Cutting hill slopes weakens and exposes soil to erosion which sweeps sediments into rivers, hence reducing river carrying capacities for drainage.”

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president S.M. Mohamed Idris said Balik Pulau, which had large swathes of mangrove swamps years ago, was now bare due to clearing of land.

“Mangrove swamps have the ability to absorb rain water and is an essential factor like in a ‘food chain’ to retain and absorb rain water,” said Mohamed Idris.

More rain and storms expected till this Sunday
The Star 8 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: People in Selangor, Johor and in the northern states should brace for more rain and thunderstorms in the next few days.

A spokesman for the Meteoro­logical Department said the weather forecast was for the whole week until Sunday.

“We will issue updates to the necessary agencies and departments involved in flood relief efforts through SMS,” he said.

The department issued warnings for thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds in Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak (Hilir Perak, Muallim and Batang Padang districts), Selangor (Sabak Bernam, Kuala Selangor and Hulu Selangor districts) and Johor (Kota Tinggi, Johor Baru, Kulai and Pontian).

The Penang Civil Defence Department (APM) is mobilising 300 personnel in anticipation of a worsening flood situation in the state.

The public can contact the APM at 04-2289012 or 04-2263876 in case of an emergency.

Meanwhile, the State Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) said seven stations in the state’s northeast district received cumulative rainfall of between 28mm and 105mm in the last 24 hours.

“Kolam Air Itam station received the most rainfall of 105mm while Sungai Pinang station recorded 72mm rainfall.

“The four hours of rainfall caused Sungai Air Terjun, Sungai Air Itam, Sungai Air Putih, Sungai Pinang, Sungai Dua, Sungai Kecil as well as Sungai Jelutong to burst their banks.

“About 350 victims from some 150 homes were affected,” the DID said in a statement.

Penang govt blames heavy rain, overflowing rivers as flash flood, landslide causes
AUDREY DERMAWAN New Straits Times 7 Nov 16;

GEORGE TOWN: A combination of factors, which include continuous heavy rain and overflowing rivers, were blamed as the cause of flash floods and landslides in Penang this morning.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said initial reports showed that 21 villages were affected.

Flood waters, measuring between 1m and 3m, submerged nearly 150 houses in the affected areas.

"The areas affected are deemed flood hotspots.

"We are doing all we can to extend the necessary assistance," he said.

Chow said the state Drainage and Irrigation Department has requested for RM665,000 to carry out seven short-term projects to minimise the floods in some of the affected areas.

"We have approved the sum and works will be carried out soonest," he added.

Meanwhile, Chow maintaind the landslides at Jalan Batu Ferringhi-Jalan Teluk Bahang, which closed the stretch to traffic for the day, was not caused by hill-clearing activities.

Govt to only give RM150mil for flood issues
The Star 8 Nov 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Government can only fork out RM150mil for flood mitigation in Penang despite the state’s request for RM350mil.

The amount given is based on the Government’s ability to distribute flood mitigation allocations to Kelantan, Pahang, Sabah and Terengganu, as well as Penang.

“I cannot promise you more than that,” Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was responding to calls from several lawmakers from Penang who asked when the Federal Government would approve the state’s request of RM350mil for the Sg Pinang flood mitigation project.

Wan Junaidi said the state can still request for more in 2018.

He said that under Budget 2016, about RM700mil was allocated for flood mitigation while for Budget 2017, the ministry requested about RM400mil.

“A lot of states are asking for a lot of funds but nobody got 100% of what they asked for,” he told reporters when met at the lobby later.

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Indonesia: Palm oil farmers ignore sustainability, even if paid not to - study

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 7 Nov 16;

Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, plans to improve the sustainability of the industry and stop the annual land and forest fires, which occur in part due to the lack of awareness of sustainable practices among small farmers, who manage 40 percent of the country’s palm oil product.

According to a new report by the University of Indonesia’s (UI) Research Center for Climate Change (RSCC), two out of three palm oil farmers in Riau and South Sumatra said they would still convert new land to plantation land even though they were being offered money not to do so.

“Sixty-nine percent of our respondents said they are unwilling [to stop using new land] despite compensation,” said Sonny Mumbunan, the head of the research team.

The study questioned 1,350 farmers with up to 25 hectares of land in 96 villages in five regencies in Riau and South Sumatra, which constitutes 47 percent of small farmers’ palm oil production in the country.

The study, conducted from April to August, is the largest of its kind in Indonesia.

Out of all respondents, only 31 percent said they would be willing to stop using new land as long as they were compensated with about Rp 166 million (US$12,644) per hectare.

It means that using new land is still seen by small farmers as the only way to increase productivity, even though big companies are well-informed on this fallacy.

“They have land, but their productivity is low. So their instinct is to use new land, rather than increase their productivity,” Sonny said.

To convert new land to plantation land, small farmers sometimes resort to slash-and-burn practices as the fastest and easiest conversion method, which have led to annual fires engulfing a large part of Indonesia’s forests.

Small farmers’ reluctance to stop converting new land to palm oil plantations causes alarm because land conversion is likely to lead to deforestation.

“This is not easy. Unsustainable palm oil practices are still rampant,” said Sonny.

An even larger percentage of farmers said they planned to stay in the industry, with 85 percent saying they were unwilling to switch professions, indicating their dependency on palm oil and a lack of alternative job opportunities.

“Only 15 percent said they were willing to switch jobs with Rp 234 million per hectare as compensation,” Sonny said.

The survey also measured farmers’ concerns regarding their profession with long dry seasons and fertilizers as their main concerns.

Legality of land, forest conversions and sustainable certifications, like ISPO and RSPO, are the least of their concerns.

“Ten of the least important concerns relate to regulations [like land legality] that we often read about in newspapers. This is very upsetting,” said Sonny.

Dewan Effendi, a small farmer from Simpang Beringin village in Pelelawan regency, Riau, said that there were no government programs that empower small farmers in his region, which explained his lack of concern over sustainability.

“Back in 2013, there was a program that was supposed to give free sustainability certificates to us. But in the process, we still had to pay. There was no clarity on when the certificates would be issued. It’s all just false hope,” he said.

Musi Banyuasin agriculture agency head Iskandar Syarianto admitted that the government had long neglected small farmers. “In our agency, small farmers are not being cared for,” he said. “In terms of productivity, there’s been almost no training from us to support small farmers.”

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Indonesia: Promoting wildlife importance through Way Kambas Festival

Otniel Tamindael Antara 8 Nov 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Way Kambas Festival in the district of East Lampung, Lampung Province, scheduled from November 11 to 13, 2016, aims to promote the importance of wildlife and environment in public life.

As an annual event of East Lampung District, Way Kambas Festival this time will focus on promoting the Way Kambas National Park and raising public awareness about the importance of environmental conservation.

One of the conservation areas in the world for Sumatran rhinos and elephants, Way Kambas National Park has gained a lot of international attention.

The three-day festival will feature numerous activities to highlight the parks endemic wildlife, and will help attract more tourists to the park.

A number of activities and competitions, Way Kambas sketches, creative souvenir competition, Way Kambas adventure trail, 10k run with elephants, drawing and coloring contest for children, cycling inside the national park, traditional dances, fruit party and elephant parade will mark the festival.

East Lampung District Head Chusnia Chalim, better known as Nunik, stated that the festival will allow local residents to learn more about the park than the fact that it is an elephant conservation center.

She noted that the festival is also part of district governments efforts to transform the Way Kambas National Park, or TNWK, into an international tourist destination.

An excellent bird-watching location, thanks to the presence of the rare white-winged wood duck, the WKNP is home to critically endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and Sumatran rhinoceroses.

With swamp forest, lowland rainforest, mangrove forest and dry beach forest, along with expanses of grassland, this national park is an ideal habitat for thousands of different species and offers exciting opportunities for visitors to experience some of Indonesias most diverse wildlife.

"That is why we are making efforts to develop Way Kambas and turn it into a national and international tourist destination," Nunik had remarked in Sukadana some time ago.

The Way Kambas National Park is an icon of East Lampung district.

East Lampung district is a rich, beautiful and interesting area with friendly people and a lot of tourist attractions, she asserted.

The Great Hall of the Way Kambas National Park is also drafting a strategy to put to use trained domesticated elephants in the Elephant Conservation Center as a tourist attraction, she added.

In the meantime, TNWK Great Halls Public Relations Chief, Sukatmoko, said he was waiting for the government to put in place rules regarding the use of Elephant Conservation Center as a tourist destination.

"We are still waiting for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to frame rules regarding using elephants, so that visitors can enjoy the facility more," Sukatmoko had observed recently.

He stated that the WKNP Great Hall is currently designing an ecotourism village as a secondary destination for visitors.

Tourists visiting the ecotourism village in the WKNP will be able to experience the extensive flora and fauna and have an opportunity to witness and learn about the endangered Sumatran elephant, rhinoceros and tigers along with a vast array of other exotic animals, such as monkeys, tapirs, leopards and birds.

The development of ecotourism aims to increase the number of tourist visits to the WKNP in addition to boosting the economy of the local community.

The ecotourism village will also offer homestays, various handicrafts of the local village, and a variety of cuisines typical to the region.

According to Sukatmono, the Great Hall of WKNP is collaborating with local NGOs to develop and manage this ecotourism village.

Given its numerous tourist attractions, the Indonesian province of Lampung is being encouraged to develop its tourism sector as an important source of foreign exchange and employment.

This will help provide viable opportunities for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Another tourist attraction in Lampung is the Lampung Museum in the provincial city of Tanjungkarang that can serve as a historical tourism asset and will attract both domestic and foreign tourists.

The museum has an interesting and significant collection of artefacts depicting historical heritage.

Lampung is famous across the world because of the Krakatau island volcano, one of the most fascinating sites globally, and for agricultural commodities, such as pepper and coffee.

Given their central location, the Krakatau islands are accessible both from Jakarta, through the province of Banten, and from Bandarlampung, the capital of the Lampung province.

The Krakatau islands comprise three small and beautiful islands: Rakata, Panjang and Serdang.

The minister remarked that besides Krakatau, Lampung also has many other tourist attractions that will be developed properly in order to draw domestic and foreign tourists.

In an effort to boost the number of tourist visits, the government will allow international cruise ships to pass through Lampung and anchor near the tourist attractions in the province.(*)

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Vietnam: Floods kill 15, thousands evacuated

Reuters 7 Nov 16;

Floods in Vietnam's central, central highland and southern provinces have left 15 people dead and six missing and displaced thousands, the Department of Natural Disaster Prevention and Control said on Monday.

Flooding from very heavy rain brought by cold air and a tropical low pressure system last week have blocked roads, destroyed more than 200 houses and inundated more than 40,000 other houses in 12 provinces, the department said in a report.

A combined 12,000 hectare of crop land were flooded while more than 40,000 cattle and poultry were dead or washed away, the report said.

Last month, floods following torrential rain killed dozens of people in Vietnam's central region of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces and inundated more than 100,000 houses.

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Michael Perry)

Phú Yên calls for emergency aid after floods
Vietnam News 7 Nov 16;

ĐÀ NẴNG — The flooded central province of Phu Yen Province has called for Government emergency aid of 1,000 tonnes of rice and over one tonne of medicine and medical supplies.

The province sustained the most damage in the south-central region from recent rains and flooding, with an estimated loss of VND337 billion (US$15 million).

Provincial authorities also asked for an emergency fund of VND90 billion ($4 million) for quick repair of flood-damaged roads, dykes and irrigation systems.

The Centre of Flood and Storm Prevention in the Central and Central Highlands regions said flood levels in the rivers of the south-central region have gradually been subsiding, but there was still risk of flooding.

According to the latest reports, floods washed away over 250,000 cubic metres of soil on roads, channels and dykes, damaging 15 bridges and causing a loss of around VND430 billion ($19 million).

Ten residents of Bình Định, Phú Yên and Dak Lak provinces were killed, while over 12,000 houses in provinces from Quang Ngai to Ninh Thuan and the central highlands provinces of Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Dak Nong were submerged or otherwise damaged.

Over 11,000ha of rice and farm produce along with 17,000 fowls and cattle were either killed or swept away.

According to the Centre for Flood and Storm Prevention in the Central Highlands, some provinces have completed repairs of crucial sections of roads and railways as of yesterday morning.

Two fishing boats from Binh Dinh with 13 fishermen were rescued and towed home yesterday after their engines were broken by rough seas. — VNS

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UN climate chief: No doubt world will shift to low emissions

KARL RITTER Associated Press Yahoo News 7 Nov 16;

MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Climate negotiators started work Monday on implementing the Paris Agreement on global warming amid uncertainty over how the U.S. election will impact the landmark deal as temperatures and greenhouse gases soar to new heights.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa told delegates in the rain-soaked Moroccan city of Marrakech that "no politician or citizen, no business manager or investor" can doubt that the world is determined to shift toward a "low-emission, resilient society."

So far, 100 countries have formally joined the agreement adopted last year in Paris, including top polluters China, the United States, the European Union and India.

However, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he would "cancel" the deal if he wins the election this week. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, backs the climate policies of President Barack Obama's government.

The upcoming election seemed to be on everyone's mind at the start of the two-week conference in Marrakech, where even security guards at the sprawling conference center were overheard discussing the potential implications for the world and efforts to fight climate change in particular.

"Trump becoming President? I personally don't have problem with it. But what does the guy want to do?" said Adjo Bokon, a delegate from the West African nation of Togo. "Is he conscious of what is going on with climate change?"

Gabriela Fischerova, a Slovak official representing the European Union, said the 28-nation bloc is "open to any result. We will continue our discussions with any administration that will be in place."

The Paris Agreement marks the first time all countries have pledged to fight global warming by curbing the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.

The U.N. says global emissions rise every year, reaching 52.7 billion tons in 2014, primarily driven by the rapid expansion of China, India and other Asian economies.

Meanwhile, global average temperatures keep hitting new records. Last year was the hottest since reliable record-keeping began in the 19th century and this year is expected to be even hotter.

On a per-capita basis, rich countries like the United States, Australia and oil-rich Gulf nations, have the highest emissions.

"The wealthiest countries live as if there were three planets," said French Environment Minister Segolene Royal. Meanwhile, poor countries in Africa who have contributed very little to the problem are suffering the consequences with fertile land turning into desert, she said.

Delegates will meet for two weeks in the Moroccan city to work on the rules for implementing the Paris deal, including how to measure and report emissions so that countries can be held accountable.

The goal of the agreement is to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times, and "pursue efforts" to try to hold it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The lower threshold was introduced on demand from vulnerable countries such as low-lying island nations who fear they will be washed away by rising seas as global warming melts glaciers and ice sheets.

Temperatures have already risen about 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) since the industrial revolution and analyses of the emissions cuts that countries have pledged so far show they put the world on a path to about 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) of warming.

"Decisions made in the next few years will largely determine if we're able to achieve the 1.5 C warming threshold agreed in Paris," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru's former environment minister who now leads environmental group WWF International's work on climate change. "Or if we take the unthinkable option of blowing right past it."

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