The Disasters Charter was activated for a Tsunami in Chile:
Tsunami in Chile
Type of Event: Ocean Wave (Tsunami)
Location of Event: Chile
Date of Charter Activation: 02 April 2014
Charter Requestor: CONAE on behalf of ONEMI
Description of the Event
An 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred off the northern coast of Chile at 23:46 UTC (20:46 local time) on 01 April 2014. Chilean authorities issued a tsunami alert and thousands of people have been evacuated from coastal areas.
Following the earthquake waves up to 2.1 m struck areas along the coast, including the cities of Pisagua, Patache and Iquique. The government of Chile recommended that anyone on the coast should evacuate and tens of thousands of people have done so, retreating to higher grounds. Many people have spent the night in hills nearby.
Despite the evacuations, however, five people have been reported killed so far, due to the impact and destruction caused by the waves. Landslides have also occurred and some roads have been blocked by debris in addition to power lines being cut. It has also been reported that 300 prisoners escaped from a prison in Iquique.
Magnitude 8 earthquakes on the Richter scale are at the higher end of the scale, and often cause major damage to affected areas. Chile is located in the “Ring of Fire”, an area of the Pacific Ocean basin that is seismologically active. This causes Chile to be prone to earthquakes and another powerful earthquake struck off the coat of Chile in 2010, resulting in devastation.
The tsunami warning was expected to last until 08:00 UTC on 02 April, and assessments of the damage and recovery will commence once the threat has passed.
The Disasters Charter has been activated for a Flood in the Solomon Islands:
Flood in the Solomon Islands
Type of Event: Flood
Location of Event: Honiara – Solomon Islands
Date of Charter Activation: 05 April 2014
Charter Requestor: UNITAR/UNOSAT on behalf of UNOCHA
Project Management: UNITAR/UNOSAT
Description of the Event
Days of heavy rainfall have caused flash flooding in the Solomon Islands, inundating the capital city of Honiara and displacing thousands of people. An estimated 19 people have been killed and almost 30 are still missing.
The flooding began on 03 April 2014 when the rainfall caused rivers across the main island of Guadalcanal to burst their banks. The floodwaters from the River Matanikau left many areas of Honiara underwater and reportedly destroyed thousands of homes along the rivers. The flooding has also damaged or destroyed bridges along the rivers and cut off or damaged roads.
The river levels rose much faster than anticipated, giving people little time to evacuate. The storm that caused the rain later developed into a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone, Ita, which moved away from the Solomon Islands over the weekend.
A state of emergency has been declared, and it is estimated that as many as 12,000 people could be affected in Honiara. While the storm weakened and water levels began to subside on 05 February, the long process of recovery and rebuilding is underway.
Source – The White House (see also the President’s Statement):
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 27, 2014
FACT SHEET: The Administration’s Proposal for Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program
On January 17, 2014, President Obama gave a speech at the Department of Justice on his Administration’s review of certain intelligence activities. During this speech, he ordered a transition that would end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it previously existed and establish a new mechanism to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata. The President made clear that he was ordering this transition to give the public greater confidence that their privacy is appropriately protected, while maintaining the tools our intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to keep us safe. This fact sheet describes the steps the Administration has taken to implement this transition, details the President’s proposal for a new program to replace the Section 215 program, and outlines the steps the Administration will be taking in the near future to realize the President’s vision.
Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program as it Existed
On January 17, 2014, the President directed the first step in the transition of the Section 215 program; that the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek to modify the program to ensure that:
Absent an emergency situation, the government can query the telephony metadata collected pursuant to the program only after a judge approves the use of specific numbers for such queries based on national security concerns; and
The results of any query are limited to metadata within two hops of the selection term being used, instead of three.
On February 5, 2014, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approved the government’s request to modify the program.
The President’s Proposal to Replace the Section 215 Program
For the second step in the transition, the President instructed the Attorney General and the Intelligence Community (IC) to develop options for a new program that could match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 metadata program was designed to address without the government holding the bulk telephony metadata records. The President further instructed the Attorney General and the IC to report back to him with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization by the FISC on March 28th.
Consistent with this directive, DOJ and the IC developed options designed to meet the criteria the President laid out in his speech — to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this metadata. The Administration has also consulted with Congress, the private sector, privacy and civil liberties groups, and other interested groups.
On the basis of these consultations, and after having carefully considered the available options, the President has decided on a proposal that will, with the passage of appropriate legislation, allow the government to end bulk collection of telephony metadata records under Section 215, while ensuring that the government has access to the information it needs to meet its national security requirements. Under the President’s proposal, a new program would be created with the following key attributes:
the government will not collect these telephone records in bulk; rather, the records would remain at the telephone companies for the length of time they currently do today;
absent an emergency situation, the government would obtain the records only pursuant to individual orders from the FISC approving the use of specific numbers for such queries, if a judge agrees based on national security concerns;
the records provided to the government in response to queries would only be within two hops of the selection term being used, and the government’s handling of any records it acquires will be governed by minimization procedures approved by the FISC;
the court-approved numbers could be used to query the data over a limited period of time without returning to the FISC for approval, and the production of records would be ongoing and prospective; and
the companies would be compelled by court order to provide technical assistance to ensure that the records can be queried and that results are transmitted to the government in a usable format and in a timely manner.
The President believes that this approach will best ensure that we have the information we need to meet our intelligence requirements while enhancing public confidence in the manner in which this information is collected and held.
The Path Forward
Legislation will be needed to implement the President’s proposal. The Administration has been in consultation with congressional leadership and members of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on this important issue throughout the last year, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals the President has put forward. Given that this legislation will not be in place by March 28 and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities in question, the President has directed DOJ to seek from the FISC a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, which includes the substantial modifications in effect since February.
Source – EU Parliament:
European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 March 2014 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Copernicus Programme and repealing Regulation (EU) No 911/2010 (COM(2013)0312 – C7-0195/2013 – 2013/0164(COD)) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)
The European Parliament ,
– having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0312),
– having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 189(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0195/2013),
– having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,
– having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 October 2013(1) ,
– after consulting the Committee of the Regions,
– having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 20 December 2013 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,
– having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0027/2014),
1. Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;
2. Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;
3. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.
(1) OJ C 67, 6.3.2014, p. 88.
. . .
The Disasters charter has been activated for Missing Malaysia Airlines jet:
Missing Malaysia Airlines jet
Type of Event: Other – Missing aircraft
Location of Event: South China Sea
Date of Charter Activation: 11 March 2014
Charter Requestor: China Meteorological Administration
Project Management: China Meteorological Administration
Description of the Event
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared from radar on 07 March 2014. The jet was carrying 239 people (12 crew and 227 passengers) and has yet to be found despite a multi-national search.
The aircraft departed from Kuala Lumpur at 16:41 UTC and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 22:30, but Vietnamese air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft at 17:30 (01:30 local time).
An international search began for the aircraft in the South China Sea, the last known location of the jet, but four days later no sign of the aircraft had been found. The search area has since been expanded to the Malacca Strait, on the western coast of Malaysia. And on 15 March the search shifted to as far as the Indian Ocean.
There has been much speculation regarding the fate of the aircraft. No debris has been found and though several oil slicks have been investigated it was determined that they were not from the aircraft. Two passengers aboard the jet were under suspicion, following an investigation that revealed that they were using stolen passports, but Interpol has since dismissed any terrorist connections for the two passengers.
No distress signals have been received from the plane and it remains unknown what happened. It has been noted by investigators that it is very unusual for an airliner to simply disappear in such a manner.
Both naval vessels and aircraft from at least ten different countries are participating in the search. Satellite imagery is now being employed to search for any evidence of the plane, both before and after it disappeared. China is utilising ten of its satellites to image the search area. The United States imaging corporation, DigitalGlobe, has started a crowdsourcing campaign in which over two million volunteers have studied DigitalGlobe images of the area.
More than 20 countries are participating in the search and the latest reports indicate that the plane turned back after take-off and passed over Malaysia and then headed north-west. Evidence suggests the plane flew for several hours after communication with air traffic controllers was lost.
As of 17 March 2014, the search remains ongoing.
There have been a number of recent Disasters Charter Activations:
Mount Kelud volcanic eruption in Indonesia
Flood in Bolivia
Flood and landslide in Burundi
Source – Space News:
U.K. Blocks Bid To Create Common European Imagery Policy
By Peter B. de Selding | Jan. 30, 2014
David Willetts, Britain’s minister for science and universities, said the British government has concluded that a blanket EU regulation would undermine the commercial high-resolution satellite image industry in Europe. Credit: BBC photo
BRUSSELS — The European Commission’s effort to set common European regulations on the sale of high-resolution satellite imagery outside Europe has been blocked by the British government and is likely to be watered down to an advisory notice instead of a binding policy, European government officials said. . . . [Full Story]
The Disasters Charter has been activated for a Forest fire in Mt. Japfu, India:
Forest fire in Mt. Japfu, India
Type of Event: Forest fire
Location of Event: Mount Japfu, India
Date of Charter Activation: 05 February 2014
Charter Requestor: NRSC / ISRO
Description of the Event
A forest fire broke out on the peak of Mount Japfu in India’s Kohima District on 31 January 2014. It is estimated that almost seven kilometres of the peak have been affected so far and the fire has been described as one of the country’s worst in recent history.
Mount Japfu is located in the state of Nagaland in the north-east of India and is home to a great deal of flora. The Dzouku Valley, part of the mountain range, is well known for this, and has been dubbed the ‘Valley of Flowers’.
Several hundred firefighters and volunteers have been working to stop the fires since last week, and the Indian Air Force deployed helicopters to help on 03 February. The helicopters sprayed water over the fires in areas which could not be reached by land. The worst of the fires were doused but some fires have continued and there are concerns that the fires may move toward Dzouku Valley.