Monday, November 18, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: Comet ISON's Super Tail - Tremendous Volume Of Light Shattering Dust And Gas Stretches More Than 16 MILLION Kilometers From End To End; 12 TIMES Wider Than The Sun's Atmosphere! [STUNNING PHOTOS]

November 18, 2013 - SPACE - Comet's ISON's recent outburst of activity has done more than simply brighten the comet. Whatever exploded from the comet's core also created a spectacularly-long tail, more than 16 million kilometers from end to end. Scroll down to see the full extent of Comet ISON as photographed on Nov. 17th by Michael Jäger of Ebenwaldhöhe, Austria:





"The tail of the comet stretches more than 7o across the sky," says Jäger. It's almost as wide as the bowl of the Big Dipper.


Physically, ISON's tail is about 12 times wider than the sun. So, when the head of ISON plunges into the sun's atmosphere on Nov. 28th, more than 15 million kilometers of the comet's tail will still be jutting into space behind it.


Because so much gas and dust is spewing from the comet's core, it is impossible to see clearly what caused Comet ISON's outburst on Nov. 13-14. One possibility is that fresh veins of ice are opening up in the comet's nucleus, vaporizing furiously as ISON approaches the sun. Another possibility is that the nucleus has completely fragmented.



Taken by Astronomy Observatory Team(OFA)of Thessaloniki on November 18, 2013
@ Exohi-Thessaloniki-Greece.

Taken by Alessandro Dimai on November 18, 2013 @ Cortina dAmpezzo - Italy.

Taken by Marco Migliardi on November 18, 2013 @ Cortina dAmpezzo - Italy.

Taken by Gregg Ruppel on November 18, 2013 @ Ellisville, MO, USA

Taken by Vitali Nevski on November 18, 2013 @ ISON-Kislovodsk Observatory.

Taken by Nick Rose on November 17, 2013 @ San Mateo, California, USA.

Taken by Kosmas Gazeas on November 18, 2013 @ University of Athens Observatory, Athens, Greece.




"If so, it will still be several days before we know for sure," says Karl Battams, an astronomer with NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign. "When comet nuclei fall apart, it’s not like a shrapnel-laden explosion. Instead, the chunks slowly drift apart at slightly different speeds. Given that ISON’s nucleus is shrouded in such a tremendous volume of light-scattering dust and gas right now, it will be almost impossible to determine this for at least a few days and perhaps not until the comet reaches the field of view of NASA's STEREO HI-1A instrument on November 21, 2013. We will have to wait for the chunks to drift apart a sufficient distance, assuming they don't crumble first."


Monitoring is encouraged. Comet ISON rises in the east just before the sun. Amateur astronomers, if you have a GOTO telescope, enter these coordinates. Dates of special interest include Nov. 17th and 18th when the comet will pass the bright star Spica, making ISON extra-easy to find.

Sky maps:
Nov. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.

Realtime Comet ISON Photo Gallery

Ephemerides: Comet ISON, Comet Lovejoy, Comet Encke, Comet LINEAR X1

- Space Weather.



WAR DRUMS: Iran Unveils "Biggest" Attack Drone With "2,000 Kilometer Range" - "Successfully Tested" And Is Capable Of Launching Air-To-Surface Missile Strikes On Any Targets In Israel!

November 18, 2013 - IRAN - Iran on Monday revealed a new missile-equipped drone which it is calling its biggest one yet. The unmanned aerial vehicle has a range of some 2,000 kilometers and is capable of launching air-to-surface missile strikes, according to IRNA news agency.


An Iranian made missile-equipped drone dubbed "Fotros", is unvieled during a ceremony in Tehran
on November 18, 2013. (AFP Photo / ISNA)

“The Fotros drone has an operational range of 2,000 kilometers and can fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet, with a flight time of 16 to 30 hours,” defense minister Mohammad Dehgan said during the drone’s unveiling ceremony.

Dehgan added that the aircraft had been “successfully” tested and that its development “shows that sanctions imposed by the enemies are not an obstacle to the progress of the defence industry.”

The machine was developed by scientists at Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Industries, which is closely affiliated with Iran's Defense Ministry. According to Deghan, it has been tested under international standards in the most specialized centers.

The new drone will be able to undertake reconnaissance missions and launch air-to-surface missile strikes.

Iran’s drone program has sparked a great deal of concern from the US and its allies in recent years. In September, Tehran unveiled the ‘Shahed 129’ drone, which capacitates eight missiles and has a range of 1,700km.

The country also publicized its development of ‘Yasseer,’ a reconnaissance drone. The vehicle can fly for eight hours straight and has a range of 200km. Yasseer was thought to have been modeled after the US ‘ScanEagle’ drone - which Iran claims to have seized just over one year ago.

The plane entered Iranian airspace from eastern Afghanistan, and Iran “reverse-engineered” it in December 2012, according to a state TV report.

Iran is also thought to be undertaking the production of a new attack drone series called the Rad-85. - RT.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For November 18, 2013 - Another Explosion At Indonesia's Sinabung Volcano Sends Ash Plume 30,000 Feet High; Merapi Volcano In Central Java Produces Strong Explosion With Loud Rumblings; And Weak Explosions At Italy's Mount Etna As Activity Decreases Since Last Paroxysm!

November 18, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe, courtesy of  Volcano Discovery.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): Another explosion occurred this morning, sending an ash plume to about 30,000 ft (9 km) altitude according to Darwin VAAC, that drifted westward.


Explosion at Sinabung this morning.

The aviation alert level was raised to red immediately.


WATCH:  Sinabung eruption - November 18, 2013.




Merapi (Central Java): A relatively strong explosion occurred yesterday morning (4-6 am local time), producing a large ash plume of about 2 km height and accompanied by loud rumblings. Ash fell to the south and east sides of the volcano, as far as Solo (30 km distance). According to local press, many people spontaneously evacuated their homes in several villages near the volcano.


Etna (Sicily, Italy): Activity has gradually decreased since the last paroxysm, with short peaks of renewed stronger activity in between. As of now, weak explosions probably still continue at the New SE crater but cannot be observed due to cloud cover. Tremor signal is still elevated but with a an overall decreasing tendency.


Weak activity last evening from the New SE crater.

Current tremor signal (ESLN station, INGV Catania)


Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for November 18, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.



SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Nature Pulls Another Fast One On Astronomers - TWO Galaxies Caught Masquerading As ONE?!

November 18, 2013 - SPACE - What might look like a colossal jet shooting away from a galaxy turns out to be an illusion. New data from the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) reveal that two galaxies, one lying behind the other, have been masquerading as one.


The edge-on spiral galaxy UGC 10288 appeared to be a single object in previous observations. However, new
detailed radio data from the NRAO's Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) revealed that the large perpendicular
extension of UGC 10288's halo (blue) is really a distant background galaxy with radio jets.
(Credit: VLA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SDSS/NOAO/University of Manitoba)

In a new image highlighting the chance alignment, radio data from the VLA are blue and infrared observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) are yellow and orange, respectively. Visible data are also shown, with starlight in purplish blue and heated gas in rose.

The closer galaxy, called UGC 10288, is located 100 million light-years away. It is spiral in shape, but from our viewpoint on Earth, we are seeing its thin edge. The farther galaxy, seen in blue, is nearly 7 billion light-years away. Two giant jets shoot away from this galaxy, one of which is seen above the plane of the closer galaxy's disk.

Earlier radio images of the two galaxies appeared as one fuzzy blob, and fooled astronomers into thinking they were looking at one galaxy. Thanks to the VLA pulling the curtain back on the disguised duo, the scientists have a unique opportunity to learn otherwise-unobtainable facts about the nearer galaxy.

"We can use the radio waves from the background galaxy, coming through the nearer one, as a way to measure the properties of the nearer galaxy," said Judith Irwin, of Queen's University, Canada, lead author of a recent paper on the findings, appearing online Nov. 15 in the Astronomical Journal.

Observations from Spitzer and WISE helped to reveal new structures above and below the plane of the closer galaxy's disk. For example, Spitzer helped confirm an arc-like feature rising more than 11,000 light-years above the disk, which was seen in the radio observations.

Irwin worked with an international team of astronomers from North America, India and Europe who are part of the "Continuum Halos in Nearby Galaxies -- an EVLA Survey" (CHANG-ES) consortium.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about Spitzer, visit http://spitzer.caltech.edu and http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer .

JPL manages and operates the WISE mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The WISE mission was selected competitively under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah. The spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise and http://wise.astro.ucla.edu and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/wise. - Science Daily.



FUK-U-SHIMA: TEPCO Begin Very Risky Nuclear Fuel Rod Removal - If Rods Break Or Overheat, Radioactive Gases Could Be Released, Creating A Nuclear Chain Reaction!

November 18, 2013 - JAPAN - In a highly risky undertaking Fukushima plant operators have finally begun removing over 1,500 nuclear fuel rods from one of the four reactors at its damaged nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan on Monday.


This handout picture taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on November 18, 2013 shows a cask (C) of
nuclear fuel being lifted and moved by TEPCO workers as TEPCO started operations to remove fuel rods
from a pool at the unit four reactor building of TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in
the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)

During the first transfers of the operation, steel fuel rods were laid in a cooling pool in a damaged reactor building. The portable pool holds 22 rods, with the operation being likened to removing cigarettes from a squashed pack. While the first group will take around two days to move, it could take up to a week to move the cooling pool to a common storage pool in a different building, TEPCO told Reuters.  "We will continue with the work from tomorrow and proceed, paying close attention to safety," said TEPCO in the statement.

It is important to conduct the transfer as soon as possible as they are being stored in an unstable building which could potentially collapse in the event of another earthquake.


WATCH:  Fukushima operator to start fuel-rod removal.




Unit 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant was offline at the time of the 2011 catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, which is why, unlike the other three, its core didn't go into meltdown.

Hydrogen explosions blew the roof off the building and severely damaged the structure, however. Keeping so many fuel rods in a storage pool in the building poses a serious safety risk, experts say.

With the help of robots and cranes, the workers will attempt to cautiously transfer 1,331 spent fuel rods and 202 new ones from the damaged reactor pool to a more reliable storage facility. If these rods break or overheat, radioactive gases could be released into the atmosphere, however, prompting a self-sustained nuclear chain reaction.

According to the operators of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), all necessary measures have been taken to contain the threat stemming from the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.


This handout picture taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on November 18, 2013 shows a cask (C) of
nuclear fuel being lifted and moved by TEPCO workers as TEPCO started operations to remove fuel rods
from a pool at the unit four reactor building of TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in
the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)

While the full decommissioning of the plant is expected to take decades, the company said it plans to remove 22 rods over the course of two days. A giant crane equipped with a remote- controlled pincer will be lowered into the pool and hook onto the rods, placing them inside a 91-ton cask which will be loaded on to a trailer and taken to a new storage pool.

Earlier this week it was reported that three of the spent fuel assemblies that will be pulled from the nuclear plant on Monday were in fact damaged before the 2011 earthquake hit the facility. TEPCO said the damaged assemblies - 4.5 meter high racks with 50 to 70 rods of highly irradiated used fuel - wouldn’t be lifted from the plant’s Reactor No. 4, Reuters reported.


WATCH:  Dangerous Phase - Fukushima's radioactive fuel rods to move to safe storage.




In an 11-page information sheet released in August, TEPCO informed that one of the assemblies was actually damaged back in 1982, when it was bent out of shape during a transfer.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has assigned an inspector to keep an eye on the dangerous operation, as well as video monitoring of the removal site.

Meanwhile, targets for reducing radiation levels and eradicating nuclear fallout in the areas still haven't been met, with the radius of evacuation after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown larger than the area of Hong Kong. Some areas will remain contaminated for years to come, experts say. Part of the cleanup plan is to decontaminate the surrounding towns and villages and follow new guidelines by the International Center for Radiological Protection.


Nuclear expert inspecting the unit four reactor building of the crippled TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi
nuclear plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo / TEPCO)

Major setbacks have stalled TEPCO's handling of the crisis amid widespread criticism. The utility was scheduled to begin the clean-up operation earlier this month which had to be put off after the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization pressed for further safety checks.

A recent special investigation by Reuters has revealed the distressing conditions of working at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, which are aggravated by very low pay and questionable attitudes to workers’ rights by sub-contractors involved in the numerous projects.

TEPCO is in the process of decommissioning the entire six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi plant after three reactors suffered core meltdowns in March 2011. Moving the fuel assemblies in Reactor No. 4 remains the top priority, as their height above ground appears to be highly vulnerable to another earthquake. - RT.


ICE AGE NOW: 100 Days Of Heavy Snow - Britain Now Facing Worst Winter In SIXTY YEARS, Warn Forecasters!

"What Britain faces this winter is an incomparable scenario to anything we have experienced in modern times." - James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather

November 18, 2013 - BRITAIN - LONG-RANGE weather forecasters have warned that Britain should prepare for heavy and persistent snow for up to THREE MONTHS with winter 2013 set to be the worst in more than 60 years.

The latest detailed forecasts for winter 2013 ALL point towards months of relentless extreme cold with heavy snow 'extremely likely' across the country.


Britain is facing up to 100 days of heavy, persistent snow this winter [PA]

Arctic air will roar in from the North Pole later this week, triggering the start of the worst winter in many people's lifetimes.

Experts in long-range weather forecasting said the WHOLE of Britain should be prepared for this winter to be the most severe since 1947, which saw the UK hit by relentless snow and some of the lowest temperatures on record.


The infamous winter of 1947 was among the coldest in history [PLANET NEWS ARCHIVE]

February 1947 was the coldest in history with heavy snow the following month leading to seven-metre high drifts.

Flooding was also a problem as rain ran off frozen ground in torrents leading to widespread chaos on the roads.


The Daily Express reported on the huge blizzards sweeping Britain in 1947 [DAILY EXPRESS ARCHIVE]

As the Daily Express reported at the time, roads and railways across Britain were blocked by huge Arctic blizzards.

Coal supplies - already low in the wake of WWII - struggled to get reach power stations and many were forced to shut down, causing widespread blackouts.

The lack of power supplies became so critical that at one point radio and TV broadcasts were suspended, magazines were ordered to stop being published and many newspapers were forced to cut their size.

And the latest long-range predictions for this winter show a pattern that look eerily similar to that infamous year, with bitter Arctic gales leading to feet-deep snow drifts right up until February.

Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: “Early indications are that this winter is looking particularly severe, and we could see parallels with the shocking winter of 1947.

“The models are pointing towards a high pressure blocking system which will hold cold air over the UK, and it becomes stagnant, meaning any rain turns to snow and temperatures are persistently much lower.

“There are signs it could hold out until March, meaning winter misery on the cards for millions.”


The snow will be 'heavy and persistent' throughout the UK [PA]

The latest dire warnings come as temperatures begin to dip around the UK with the first real taste of winter likely to hit on Monday.

James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said Britain is braced for “copious” snowfall this winter with extreme cold expected to last into the spring.

He added that Britain faces “an incomparable scenario to anything we have experienced in modern times”.

He said: “An exceptionally prolonged period of widespread cold is highly likely to develop throughout this winter and last into next spring.

“It will be accompanied by snow drifts of several feet and long-lasting snow accumulations on a widespread scale.

“This period of snow and cold is likely to result in an incomparable scenario to anything we have experienced in modern times.

“A scenario similar to December 2010 is likely to develop, but on a more prolonged scale in terms of overall duration.”


The forecast snow is expected to cause havoc on the railways [EAST NEWS]

January is likely to bring the worst of the weather although Britain will shiver in below-average temperatures for the next three months.

He said: “This is certainly a record-breaking and historical weather period which is likely to see one of the coldest and snowiest starts to British New Year in a very long time.”

Doctors warn temperatures persistently dipping low as -15C (5F) will lead to a crisis on over-stretched hospital wards.

Experts say 25,000 elderly people die every year from the cold and this year’s toll could be even higher.

Professor Mike Morgan, of NHS England, said: “My message to the public is simple: look after yourself this winter.

“If you know someone who is frail or elderly or has an existing health problem and they are feeling unwell, encourage them to seek early advice, go to their local pharmacy or GP before one problem leads to another and they end up in hospital.”


The UK has been warned to face months of travel disruption [PA]

The Met Office agrees temperatures will sink over the next 30 days with snow on the way.

Its 30-day outlook states: “Conditions are not expected to be as mild as recent weeks, instead, temperatures are thought more likely to be just below average than above.

“Snow is not unusual during late November and early December.

“So, with temperatures more likely to be just below average, the chance of seeing snow across the UK increases relative to recent weeks.”


Snowy scenes like this will be common across Britain this winter [PA]

Local Authorities are on standby for a particularly severe winter with gritters at the ready and more salt stockpiled than last year.

Around 95 per cent of councils are either maintaining or increasing stock levels this winter, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

Half of councils also plan to share resources with neighbouring councils while some are  adopting new methods of tackling winter including GPS trackers on gritters.

Local authorities are also using liquid de-icers, brine and sugar-coated salt which is less likely to be blown off roads by wind or traffic.


Airport bosses are expecting heavy snow to disrupt flights this winter [REUTERS]

Airport bosses warned cancellations would be “the most effective way” of dealing with severe weather.

British Airways’ operations director Andy Lord said: “I can’t guarantee that. There will be, on occasions, desks that won’t have people on them.”

He said BA was considering moving some flights from Heathrow to Gatwick in bad weather.

But he warned some people diverted to Gatwick would need to then get to Heathrow for connecting flights.

He added: “Inevitably there will be disruption at Heathrow if there are problems elsewhere.” - Express.



GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Scientists Fear That The 25-Acre Sinkhole Will Erupt With Mini-Earthquakes And Explosions; Will Have To Be Monitored For Decades!

November 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Scientists are now saying they will need to monitor for decades an enormous -- and growing -- Louisiana sinkhole that has already forced hundreds to evacuate, contaminated an aquifer and has been registering increased seismic activity, including mini-earthquakes.




What is known as the Bayou Corne sinkhole in southern Louisiana is now reportedly 25 or so acres in size and 350 feet deep, having opened in August 2012 when the wall of a subterranean salt mine collapsed and the ground above it was seemingly swallowed by the earth. It has since filled with water.

"While it was a manmade action that started this, it’s geology and natural forces that are making everything happen," Patrick Courreges, a policy analyst for the Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources, told TheVerge.com. "And geology happens slow."

When it occurred, Assumption Parish reportedly ordered the 300-or-so nearby residents to evacuate their homes. Hundreds have done so, although more than a few have remained behind, regardless of the danger.


WATCH:  Slough in - August 21, 2013.




According to TheVerge.com, recent studies show a good deal more methane gas than the initial estimate of 45 million cubic feet have leaked into a nearby aquifer and, “the fear is that the highly combustible gas will collect in a crevice or enclosed space and then ignite.”

Meanwhile, a YouTube video garnering nearly 7 million views since its posting in August shows the sinkhole, which is expected to at least double in size over time, swallowing numerous trees.

The video was reportedly shot by John Boudreaux, a local official coordinating efforts to hamstring the sinkhole’s growth, in hopes of attracting a measure of national attention to the affected residents’ plight.

And WAFB reports Gov. Bobby Jindal and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced their intention in early August to file a lawsuit against the salt mine’s former operator, Texas Brine, Co., to recoup its estimated $8 million in expenses related to the state’s ongoing mitigation work.

The station also reported two weeks ago a “second” crack had been discovered in one of the numerous stabilizing berms installed around the sinkhole.

Texas Brine reportedly elaborated on what happened in a statement, saying, “There has been a recent increase in seismic activity detected on the Texas Brine seismic instrumentation over the last ten days. These occurrences consist primarily of minor tremors or "micro-earthquakes" (MEQs) and not extended events or very long period (VLP) tremors.”

Mike Schaff is among those who have chosen to remain in his home.

He tells TheVerge.com, “My wife lives in another part of the state. We were planning on retiring here. Now, instead of coming up and enjoying the weekend, sitting on the patio drinking a few glasses of wine, we wake up in the morning and we go look for houses. That’s the new reality.”

For its part, Texas Brine had offered 92 buyout offers to local residents, and 44 had taken the deal as of mid-July. And although numerous residents now reportedly receive weekly checks from the company in the amount of $875, many continue to pay their mortgages and utility bills in hopes of one day returning. - FOX News.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Deadly Egypt Train And Bus Crash - At Least 26 Killed; 28 Injured, Some In Critical Condition!

November 18, 2013 - EGYPT - A cargo train traveling south of Egypt's capital slammed into vehicles crossing the tracks early Monday, killing at least 26 people, many from the same family returning from a wedding party, officials said.

Ahmed el-Ansari, the emergency services chief, told the Associated Press the identities of the dead weren't immediately clear. He said 28 people were injured, mostly with fractures, crush injuries and lost body parts, with some in critical condition. He said the scene had been cleared of victims.


People inspecting the wreckage of a train in the Giza neighborhood of Dahshour, Egypt, on Monday.
European Pressphoto Agency

Egyptians gather near the wreckage of a mini-bus at a railway crossing, after a train ploughed into it
on November 18, 2013 in Dahshur, killing at least 26 people. AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki

The head of the Giza security sector, Kamal el-Dali, told the Nile News state TV station that most of the dead and injured were family members on a bus returning from a wedding in Cairo. Mr. el-Dali said the family had been heading to the southern city of Fayyoum.

Mr. el-Dali said the train, which carried construction materials, also hit a small truck coming from the opposite direction.

A security official said the train was traveling from the southern city of Beni Suef when it hit at least three vehicles near the village of Dahshur, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cairo. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to brief reporters.

Here are more images from the crash:


AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki

AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki

AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki

AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki

Rescue workers remove a body from the site.
AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki

Rescue workers prepare to remove a body from the site of the deadly train accident.
AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki


The head of Egypt's railway service, Hussein Zakaria, told Nile News that initial reports indicated the crossing gates of the tracks had been closed and the train's driver was surprised to see vehicles still crossing.

"What could the guards have done? Stand in front of the bus?" Mr. Zakaria said. "The initial reports show no negligence…We shall wait for the investigation."

Egypt is notorious for train collisions and has a poor safety record that is mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment.


WATCH: Deadly Egypt train and bus crash outside Cairo.




Almost exactly a year ago, a train crashed into a bus, killing 51 children traveling to school in the governorate of Assiut, some 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Cairo. The transport minister and the head of the railways resigned following the accident.

That crash also gave ammunition to opponents of then-president Mohammed Morsi who said he had done little to improve lives of ordinary Egyptians. Mr. Morsi was ousted in a military coup in July. - WSJ.



MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Major Tornado Damage Across The U.S. Midwest - 6 Dead, With The Death Toll On The Rise; Dozens Of Tornadoes And Intense Thunderstorms Unleashed Powerful Winds That Flattened Neighborhoods; Destroying Homes, Flipping Cars, And Uprooting Trees! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

November 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Dozens of tornadoes and intense thunderstorms swept across the Midwest on Sunday, unleashing powerful winds that flattened entire neighborhoods, flipping over cars, uprooting trees and leaving at least six people dead.


Add captionA nasty field of debris in Washington after Sunday's tornado.  Twitter Photo: @MattDayhoff
Unbelievable damage on Mackenzie Street in Washington. Twitter Photo: @ZackStieber

Josh Ramsey recovers items from a family friend's home. Twitter Photo: @ZackStieber

Ray Baughman embraces family after his home was destroyed by tornado in Pekin.
Twitter Photo: @ZackStieber


Illinois took the brunt of the fury as the string of unusually powerful late-season tornadoes tore across the state, injuring dozens and even prompting officials at Chicago's Soldier Field to evacuate the stands and delay the Bears game.

"The whole neighborhood's gone. The wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house," said Michael Perdun, speaking by cellphone from the hard-hit town of Washington, where he said his neighborhood was wiped out in a matter of seconds.


WATCH:  Tornadoes leave nothing but grief across Midwest.




"I stepped outside and I heard it coming. My daughter was already in the basement, so I ran downstairs and grabbed her, crouched in the laundry room and all of a sudden I could see daylight up the stairway and my house was gone."

An elderly man and his sister were killed when a tornado hit their home around noon in the rural community of New Minden, said coroner Mark Styninger. The National Weather Service in St. Louis determined that the New Minden tornado rated an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning it had winds of at least 166 mph.


An aerial photo of the destruction in Washington
Twitter Photo: @4cast4you

Twitter Photo: @smcley18

Twitter Photo: @Mojo_Bojo

Coal City tornado formation. Twitter Photo: @jbrncich


A third person died in Washington, while three others perished in Massac County in the far southern part of the state, said Patti Thompson of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. She did not provide details..

"This is likely to be an EF-3 or higher tornado (in Washington, Ill.)," said Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert at The Weather Channel.

Southwest of Chicago, the town of Coal City was hit by a confirmed EF-2 tornado, determined after an initial NWS survey of the area.

With communications difficult and many roads impassable, it remained unclear how many people were killed or hurt. The Illinois National Guard said it had dispatched 10 firefighters and three vehicles to Washington to assist with immediate search and recovery operations.

In Washington, a rural community of 16,000, whole blocks of houses were erased from the landscape, and Illinois State Police Trooper Dustin Pierce said the tornado cut a path from one end of town to the other, knocking down power lines, rupturing gas lines and ripping off roofs.

An auto parts store with several people inside was reduced to a pile of bricks, metal and rebar; a battered car, its windshield impaled by a piece of lumber, was flung alongside it. Despite the devastation, all the employees managed to crawl out of the rubble unhurt, Pierce said.


Firefighters in Washington, Ill survey damage after tornado leveled over 50 homes.
Twitter Photo: @ZackStieber

Damage in Brookport, Illinois near Paducah.
Twitter Photo: @JeremyHL

Twitter Photo: @craigrwall

Crome rack in Coal City
Twitter Photo: @schervenyxo


"I went over there immediately after the tornado, walking through the neighborhoods, and I couldn't even tell what street I was on," Washington Alderman Tyler Gee told WLS-TV.

"Just completely flattened - some of the neighborhoods here in town, hundreds of homes."

Among those who lost his home was Curt Zehr, who said he was amazed at the speed with which the tornado turned his farmhouse outside Washington into a mass of rubble scattered over hundreds of yards. His truck was sent flying and landed on a tree that had toppled over.

"They heard the siren... and saw (the tornado) right there and got into the basement," he said of his wife and adult son who were home at the time. Then, seconds later, when they looked out from their hiding place the house was gone and "the sun was out and right on top of them."

At OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, spokeswoman Amy Paul said 37 patients had been treated, eight with injuries ranging from broken bones to head injuries that were serious enough to be admitted. Another hospital, Methodist Medical Center in Peoria, treated more than a dozen, but officials there said none of them were seriously injured.


Twitter Photo: @tayluvsRainbow

Twitter Photo: @ShannaJudiann

Twitter Photo: @puckchk

Twitter Photo: @DanDarling2


Steve Brewer, Methodist Medical Center's chief operating officer, said that doctors and other medical professionals were setting up a temporary emergency care center to treat the injured before transporting them to hospitals, while others were dispatched to search through the rubble for survivors.

By nightfall, Trooper Pierce said there were reports of looting in Washington.

About 90 minutes after the tornado destroyed homes in Washington, the storm darkened downtown Chicago. As the rain and high winds slammed into the area, officials at Soldier Field evacuated the stands and ordered the Bears and Baltimore Ravens off the field. Fans were allowed back to their seats shortly after 2 p.m., and the game resumed after about a two-hour delay.


Kentucky

  • Tornadoes were spotted in at least eight Kentucky counties.
  • A home in Rochester in Butler County had its roof blown off and there were reports of damages to homes and other structures in the various counties, but no reports of injuries.
Illinois
  • At least 50 homes were destroyed by a possible tornado in Brookport, according to reports. Search and rescue operations occurred in that town on Sunday afternoon and evening. WPSD reported that there was “massive devastation” in Brookport, with gas leaks and downed power lines. Mayor Dave Mingus tells NBC News that approximately 100 houses are damaged and that 25 to 50 of those are uninhabitable.
  • More than 80,000 customers were without power on Sunday, most of them in Peoria.
  • Severe damage was reported in Pontiac and northeast of Champagne.
  • At least one tornado hit portions of Washington and another touched down in Pekin, authorities confirmed. The Peoria Journal Start reported that Georgetown Commons apartment complex in Washington was severely damaged and other areas were hit hard. Authorities were doing a house-to-house search.
Indiana
  • Kokomo police asked residents to stay home and off the streets after city officials declared a state of emergency in the wake of severe storms.
  • The town of Kokomo has declared a state of emergency through Monday morning. Schools will not be open on Monday.
  • Gov. Mike Pence says the cities of Washington in southwestern Indiana and Lebanon in central Indiana have sustained significant damage and that 12 counties either reported tornado touchdowns or storm damage.
  • Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley says a teacher has been injured after the storm heavily damaged a school south of Lafayette.
  • The NWS says a trained spotter reported a tornado along Interstate 74 near State Route 63 in northern Vermillion County on Sunday afternoon. It also reported power lines down in adjacent Fountain County.
  • Vermillion County Sheriff's Department Director of Communication Derrek Williams reported widespread damage in the northern part of the county, about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
Michigan
  • 253,000 Without Power in Michigan
  • High winds and rain slammed into the western part of the state. 
  • Consumers Energy reported thousands of power outages, especially east of U.S. 131 between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
  • No immediate reports of injuries.
  • Churches in western Michigan canceled evening worship services.
Missouri
  • Ameren Missouri reported more than 37,000 outages Sunday afternoon, mostly in the St. Louis area.
  • The National Weather Service reported roof and shingle damage across parts of St. Louis and St. Louis County, as well as damaged and uprooted trees.
  • In St. Charles County, roof damage was reported at a Wentzville school
Ohio
  • More than 38,000 customers are without power across northwest Ohio due to the storm.
Wisconsin
  • Strong winds damaged some buildings and downed numerous trees in Dodge County. There were no reports of injuries.
  • In the town of Hustisford, cattle sheds, garages and storage sheds were damaged, said Dodge County Emergency Management Director Joseph Meagher said.

 - TWC.