Man, daughter fall 13 floors in Chile quake, but survive

When their 13th-floor apartment began to shake, Alberto Rozas pulled his 7-year-old daughter into the bathroom doorway and waited for it to stop.

Instead, they fell.

Plummeting as their brand-new apartment building toppled like a felled tree, they hugged each other all the way down.

Rozas had no idea which way was up until he looked through his apartment’s shattered window and spotted light _ “the light of the full moon.”

Rozas and his daughter, Fernanda, clambered up and to safety with nothing more than a few cuts, scrapes and bruises.

“The earthquake and the fall were one single, horrible thing,” Rozas told The Associated Press on Sunday. “I held onto her and she never let me go.”

Rozas’ neighbors who lived on the other side of the hall found themselves trapped beneath the structure, while rescuers painstakingly used electric saws and a generator-powered hammer to cut into the concrete.

“We don’t have any listening devices or cameras,” said Ian Argo, a firefighter commander.

As of Sunday, 23 people had been pulled alive from the 15-story Rio Alta building and seven bodies had been removed. An estimated 60 people remained trapped inside.

Socovil, the company that opened the concrete-and-glass structure last June, issued a statement saying it had complied with all building codes. But many residents were angry.

“The construction was obviously poor,” Rozas said.

Abel Torres, 25, had a view of the Bio Bio River from his sixth-floor apartment. He had just gotten home from his job at a nightclub when the quake hit at 3:34 a.m.

“My TV fell on top of me and suddenly I saw stars shooting across my window,” he said.

Torres and his roommate stacked furniture to reach that window _ now a skylight _ and escaped without clothes, coated in dust.

On the second floor, Maribel Alarcon and her husband Gunther rushed to comfort their 2-year-old son Oliver when he started crying moments before the temblor.

Their concern was their salvation: Oliver’s bedroom was the only place spared in their apartment.

“We prayed a lot,” Alarcon said. “And if God let us survive, that was because someone was going to rescue us.”

Much higher in the building, Rozas was sleeping alongside his daughter when the shaking began.

“There was dust, noise, everything falling,” he said. “We went to the bathroom doorway. Then there was the fall. Finally it stopped.”

After they climbed out of the wreckage, Rozas took Fernanda to her mother’s house, then returned to help firefighters understand the layout of the toppled building.

He retrieved medicine and clothes for Fernanda. And his own guitar.

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CAT site crashes, score eludes eager aspirants

After putting up with a number of glitches in the Common Admission Test (CAT-2009), the IIM aspirants had to go through another harrowing day on Sunday to find out their score as the CAT website crashed due to heavy rush. Though the results were posted on the website at around 12 noon, many students could not access the site on Sunday.

 The organisers had to shut down the servers for over three hours in the evening. Around 3 pm, they displayed a statement on the website that read, “We are experiencing heavy load on score-card access sever. We will reopen the server after three hours.”

 However, the efforts of students to access the results proved futile even after 7 pm, when the servers were reopened.

 “Why can’t they manage themselves? I am trying to know my result since 12 noon but could not succeed so far,” said Mr Ashwin Malhotra, a CAT aspirant.

 Ms Swathi Indrani, another student, complained, “Despite repeated attempts, I could not get my score. What’s wrong with IIMs and the Prometric. They made things hell for CAT aspirants this year.”

 “At least an e-mail could have been sent. Instead, they chose to attract all traffic to their site. Sending an e-mail would have caused virtually no load on the website,” said Mr P. Nikhil Kumar, another candidate.

 Some students also complained that there were errors in results too.

Military allows Twitter, other social media

The Pentagon announced on Friday it has authorised the use Twitter, Facebook and other so-called “Web 2.0” sites across the U.S. military, saying the benefits of social media outweighed security concerns.

The decision, which comes at a time of growing concern over cyber-security, applies only to the military’s non-classified network.

But it could mean big changes for large portions of the armed forces, including the Marines, which had selectively banned social media on work computers.

The Department of Defense also had bans in place since 2007 on accessing certain bandwidth-gobbling Web sites like YouTube on its network.

“The purpose of the policy is to recognize that we need to take advantage of these Internet-based capabilities. These Web 2.0 tools need to be part of what we use,” David Wennergren, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, told Reuters.

“And what we had were inconsistent approaches. Some websites were blocked and some commands were blocking things.”

Social media are increasingly important for the U.S. military. Admiral Mike Mullen, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the top U.S. military officer, has a Twitter feed with more than 16,000 followers.

U.S. Southern Command offered operational updates via Twitter on relief activities in Haiti.

REACHING OUT TO YOUNG SOLDIERS

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, 66, has said that he wants to use social networking to help the Pentagon interact with U.S. military members, many of whom are in their early 20s.

But opponents have cited the risks of information leaks, of opening gateways to hackers, along with a potential overload of precious bandwidth on the Defense Department’s network.

The new policy says commanders will still need to defend against cyber-attacks and block access to online pornography, gambling and sites promoting “hate-crime related activities.”

It also allows commanders to temporarily limit Internet access if the bandwidth is overwhelmed, a key caveat for U.S. forces fighting the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, or stationed in remote, rugged places around the globe.

Wennergren said commanders still had authority to limit access to safeguard missions, perhaps banning use of social media ahead of a major offensive. The Defense Department will also be monitoring use of its network.

“There are two imperatives. One is the ability to share information. The other is about security — we need to be good at both,” he said.

Training people so they know what can and cannot be disclosed on the Internet is a more effective policy than simply banning use of social media on work computers, he said.

“You can’t just have the policy be that you’re going to block access to MySpace. Because there are 10,000 ways people could still compromise a mission — by making a phone call, or sending an email,” Wennergren said.

“So part of this is about having a trained workforce that is savvy in how you operate in the information age.”

Scientists defend warning after tsunami non-event

The warning was ominous, its predictions dire: Oceanographers issued a bulletin telling Hawaii and other Pacific islands that a killer wave was heading their way with terrifying force and that “urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property.”

But the devastating tidal surge predicted after Chile’s magnitude 8.8-earthquake for areas far from the epicenter never materialised. And by Sunday, authorities had lifted the warning after waves half the predicted size tickled the shores of Hawaii and tourists once again jammed beaches and restaurants.

Scientists acknowledged they overstated the threat but defended their actions, saying they took the proper steps and learned the lessons of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed thousands of people who didn’t get enough warning.

“It’s a key point to remember that we cannot under-warn. Failure to warn is not an option for us,” said Dai Lin Wang, an oceanographer at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. “We cannot have a situation that we thought was no problem and then it’s devastating. That just cannot happen.”

Hundreds of thousands of people fled shorelines for higher ground Saturday in a panic that circled the Pacific Rim after scientists warned 53 nations and territories that a tsunami had been generated by the massive Chilean quake.

It was the largest-scale evacuation in Hawaii in years, if not decades. Emergency sirens blared throughout the day, the Navy moved ships out of Pearl Harbor, and residents hoarded gasoline, food and water in anticipation of a major disaster. Some supermarkets even placed limits on items like Spam because of the panic buying.

At least five people were killed by the tsunami on Robinson Crusoe Island off Chile’s coast and huge waves devastated the port city of Talcahuano, near hard-hit Concepcion on Chile’s mainland.

But the threat of monster waves that left Hawaii’s sun-drenched beaches empty for hours never appeared _ a stark contrast to the tidal surge that killed 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean in 2004 and flattened entire communities.

This time, waves of more than 5 feet were reported in Kahului Bay in Maui and in Hilo, on the eastern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, but did little damage. Predictions of wave height in some areas were off by as much as 50 percent.

In Tonga, where up to 50,000 people fled inland hours ahead of the tsunami, the National Disaster Office had reports of a wave up to 6.5 feet (1.98 meters) hitting a small northern island, with no indications of damage.

And in Japan, where authorities ordered 400,000 people out of coastal communities, the biggest wave was a 4-foot (1.22-meter) surge that hit the northern island of Hokkaido, flooding some piers.

After the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifted its warning, some countries kept their own watches in place as a precaution. Early Monday, the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of a possible tsunami about a foot and a half in size along its entire Pacific coast and told people to stay away from the waterfront. That warning was cleared later Monday morning.

Scientists offered no apologies for the warnings and defended their work, all while worrying that the false alarm could lead to complacency among coastal residents _ a disastrous possibility in the earthquake-prone Pacific Rim.

A similar quake in Chile in 1960 created a tsunami that killed about 140 people in Japan. The same surge hit Hawaii and devastated downtown Hilo, on the Big Island, killing 61 residents and wiping out more than 500 homes and businesses.

“If you give too many warnings and none of them materialize, then you lose your credibility,” Wang said. “That’s something that we have to deal with and we have to improve.”

Despite some of the panic in Hawaii, public officials called the evacuation “perfect” and said it was a good test case that proved the system worked.

Chile quake toll rises to 708

 

A collapsed bridge over the Claro river is seen near the town of Camarico, Chile on Saturday. An 8.8-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami killed more than 300 people in Chile.

The toll in the devastating earthquake in Chile has risen to 708, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said.

The country was facing “a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude” and will need enormous efforts to recover, he said at a press conference Sunday, adding the fatalities may increase as the rescue efforts are continuing, Xinhua reported.

An earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale rocked Chile last Saturday, causing widespread destruction.

Chile minister says navy made mistake on tsunami

A man walks past a destroyed road in Talcahuano, Chile, on Sunday, following a devastating earthquake that occurred on Saturday

Chile’s defence minister said on Sunday that the navy made a mistake by not immediately issuing a tsunami warning after a mammoth earthquake, a step that could have helped coastal villagers flee to higher ground sooner.

Francisco Vidal said, however, that an alarm was later sounded by port captains. He said that saved hundreds if not thousands of lives.

“The navy committed an error in not alerting the tsunami,” Mr Vidal said at a news conference.

Immediately after Saturday’s magnitude-8.8 quake, President Michelle Bachelet played down the threat of a tsunami, saying large waves were expected but no tsunami.

However, several coastal communities were smashed into by what authorities later recognized were tsunami waves.

Mr Vidal said that fortunately the navy has an emergency plan that allows navy officials in each port to sound alarms automatically when a rise in the sea is observed without waiting for an order from above. In this case, port captains sounded an alarm alerting coastal populations.

“With this system, in spite of the diagnostic error, the people could be warned to head to the hills,” Mr Vidal said.

Thirty minutes passed between the quake and waves that inundated coastal towns.

Many of the more than 708 known dead from the quake were in Chile’s coastal regions swamped by the tsunami. Among those hit were San Juan Bautista village on Robinson Crusoe Island, the port of Talcahuano and Vichato in the BioBio region.

The surge of water raced across the Pacific, leading officials in 53 nations to post warnings. But the waves proved small as they moved past Hawaii and on to such places as Australia, Tonga, Japan and Russia.

Surplus Krishna water enters Kadapa district

Former chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s promise to bring the Krishna water to facilitate irrigation for farmers in the Kadapa district will materialise as the river water entered the district on Sunday.

The surplus Krishna water reached Owk reservoir from Srisailam in Kurnool district, and will reach Mylavaram project within 24 hours. YSR had set the foundation stone for Galeru Nagari Sujala Sravanti (GNSS) project, and initiated the project as part of Jalayagnam in 2004.

The Gandikota reservoir was planned to bring surplus Krishna river water to Kadapa district through this project. According to the scheme, Krishna water was to be brought to the Owk reservoir from Srisailam, en route to Pothireddypadu head regulator, and was to be sent from the reservoir to various tanks in Kadapa district before reaching the Myalvaram project.

The state government came forward to provide drinking water temporarily to residents in Kadapa district to cope with water scarcity problem in the ensuing summer through Owk and Mylavaram water bodies. The restoration wo-rk of 51-kilometre long canal between Owk and Myalvaram reservoirs was completed. The officials decided to release 2 tmc ft water to the Mylavaram project from Owk reservoir as water stood at 22 ft. But officials are releasing only 1 tmc ft of water. At present water capacity in the Myla-varam project is 1.6 tmc ft.