Four people killed, thousands evacuated as floods hit southeast Spain

By Jon Nazca and Marco Trujillo

PILAR DE LA HORADADA/ORIHUELA, Spain (Reuters) – Four people have been killed and over 1,500 evacuated in two days of torrential rains in southeastern Spain, with many roads, train networks and an airport closed on Friday and emergency services rescuing people stuck in flooded highway tunnels.

Floods swept away cars and debris in the regions of Valencia, Murcia and eastern Andalucia. Motorway tunnels in some areas were flooded almost up to the tunnel lighting, with some vehicles partly or fully submerged.

A man was found dead in Granada province on Friday after his car was swept off a motorway and another died in Almeria after trying to drive through a flooded tunnel, rescue services said. Two siblings died on Thursday when torrential rain dragged their car away.

A total of 74 roads were closed, as was the whole Murcia regional railway service, and the Murcia airport. The railway link between Alicante and Spain’s two main cities – Madrid and Barcelona – was shut, acting Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska said.

Some affected areas saw record daily rainfall for the month of September.

“The situation is critical, all the municipality is full of water,” Mario Cervera, mayor of the town of Alcazares, one of the most affected in Murcia, told Spain’s state-run TVE channel.

Rescue workers were using a helicopter and boats in various areas, he said.

“This man was holding onto a traffic sign… the officer and I jumped to take him out,” one emergency worker told Reuters.

In addition to people already evacuated, some 2,000 residents of the town of Santomera in Murcia were being removed from their homes due to a planned controlled release from a local dam to avoid its overflowing, the interior minister said.

“The forecasts do not point to a worsening of the situation, but we have to be cautious,” he told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting before heading to the affected areas.

The rain appeared to be easing but rivers were still at risk of overflowing, including the Segura, which has already flooded the town of Orihuela in Alicante and could flood in the city of Murcia, the local water management authority said.

Authorities have recommended citizens stay at home in the affected areas and avoid using their cars.

Tourists were left stranded in Alicante airport as many flights were delayed or canceled.

“We’ve been in the queue here four or five hours, it’s very difficult to get to the toilet, impossible to get anything to eat,” Haydn Harding, a 78-year old diabetic tourist from Northern Ireland, said at the airport.

(Additional reporting by Jose Rodriguez, Paola Luelmo, Emma Pinedo and Jesus Aguado; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Hurricane Dorian hits North Carolina’s Outer Banks

A fallen tree and flood waters sit in a hotel parking lot after Hurricane Dorian swept through, in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

By Amanda Becker

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (Reuters) – Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday, hitting the beach resort area with powerful winds and battering waves days after reducing parts of the Bahamas to rubble.

The storm, packing 90-mile-per-hour winds (150 km-per-hour) made landfall at Cape Hatteras at about 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), according to the National Hurricane Center.

It lashed the Outer Banks with hurricane-force winds as far as 45 miles (72 km) from the center of the hurricane and sent tropical storm winds farther than 200 miles (320 km) from its center, the NHC said.

It has already dumped up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain along the coast between Charleston, South Carolina, to Wilmington, North Carolina, about 170 miles (275 km) away, forecasters said.

“The rain is moving up north,” said National Weather Service forecaster Alex Lamers early on Friday. “Even the Raleigh-Durham area inland will get 3 inches today.”

Dorian is expected to push out to sea later on Friday and bring tropical storm winds to Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, early on Saturday.

But it will likely spare much of the rest of the East Coast the worst of its rain and wind, before likely making landfall in Canada’s Nova Scotia that night, the NHC said.

“It’s in the process of moving out, going north,” Lamers said.

The howling west flank of Dorian has soaked the Carolinas since early Thursday, flooding coastal towns, whipping up more than a dozen tornadoes and cutting power to hundreds of thousands of people.

Floodwaters rose to a foot (30 cm) or more in parts of the historic South Carolina port city of Charleston, where more than 7 inches (18 cm) of rain fell in some areas, officials said. Another half-inch or more was expected overnight Friday.

More than 330,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday morning. Power had mostly been restored to thousands of people in Georgia, tracking site poweroutage.us showed.

But as Dorian is expected to pick up speed from its 14 mph (22 kph) crawl on Friday, life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds remain a threat for much of the area and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center said.

Governors in the region declared states of emergency, shut schools, opened shelters, readied National Guard troops and urged residents to heed warnings, as news media circulated fresh images of the storm’s devastation in the Bahamas.

At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.

A city park and playground are inundated with flood waters from Hurricane Dorian in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

A city park and playground are inundated with flood waters from Hurricane Dorian in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

In the Carolinas alone, more than 900,000 people had been ordered to evacuate their homes. It was unclear how many did so.

In Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks, Mark Jennings decided to ignore the order, lining his garage door with sandbags and boarding up his home with plywood.

The retired firefighter planned to stay put with his wife and two dogs, saying: “We are ready to go. If something happens, we can still get out of here.”

Dorian whipped up at least three tornadoes in the region, officials said. One in North Carolina damaged scores of trailers at a campground in Emerald Isle, but no one was injured, the News & Observer said.

Of at least four storm-related deaths reported in the United States, three were in Orange County, Florida, during storm preparations or evacuation, the mayor’s office said.

In North Carolina, an 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while barricading his home for Dorian, the governor said.

(Reporting by Nick Carey in Charleston, South Carolina, and Amanda Becker in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Peter Szekely, Matt Lavietes and Scott DiSavino in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Alison Williams, Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

Slow-moving hurricane Dorian pounds Bahamas, inches towards Florida coast

The eye of Hurricane Dorian remains near the city of Freeport, Bahamas in a satellite photograph distributed by the NOAA's National Weather Service September 2, 2019. National Weather Service/Handout via REUTERS.

By Dante Carrer

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (Reuters) – The slow-moving hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, pounded Grand Bahama Island on Tuesday and was forecast to come “dangerously close” to Florida’s coast by the day’s end.

Dorian has been pounding the Bahamas for days, killing at least five people in the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas and inundating homes with floodwater ahead of its expected advance on the U.S. coast, where more than a million people have been ordered evacuated.

But the hurricane weakened to a Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale early on Tuesday, with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour (195 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northwest at 1 mile per hour (1.6 kph), well below walking speed.

The exact toll of the devastation in the Bahamas will not be clear until the storm passes and rescue crews can get on the ground.

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas,” Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference on Monday. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery.”

He added that the U.S. Coast Guard was on the ground in Abaco and had rescued a number of injured individuals. Critically injured people were being taken to hospitals on New Providence, the country’s most populous island.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

Houses in a neighborhood in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island were engulfed by 6 feet (1.8 m) of water. “It looks like they’re boats on top of the water,” said Rosa Knowles-Bain, 61, a resident who fled two days ago to an emergency shelter.

Dorian was expected to churn towards Florida by the day’s end, before bringing its powerful winds and dangerous surf along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina by late Thursday.

Forecasters have told Floridians not to become complacent, as the storm is now predicted to stay off the coast.

“It’s not that far off shore,” said Robbie Berg, a forecaster and hurricane specialist with the NHC.

“All it has to do is jog a little bit west and you have a full-on hurricane rolling through Florida,” he said. “No one is out of the woods.”

Houses line a flooded street after the effects of Hurricane Dorian arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, September 2, 2019. REUTERS/John Marc Nutt

Houses line a flooded street after the effects of Hurricane Dorian arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, September 2, 2019. REUTERS/John Marc Nutt

EVACUATIONS

Nine counties in Florida have issued mandatory evacuations. They included parts of Duval County, home to Jacksonville, one of Florida’s two biggest cities, and some areas in Palm Beach County, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged coastal residents to heed evacuation orders.

Among those being evacuated was Sue Watson, a 93-year-old resident of a retirement community in Kissimmee in central Florida.

“I was all set to stay home until they had to turn the water off,” said Watson, who added she was not worried for her personal safety but hoped the storm spared the retirement community.

The storm was causing havoc for travelers on Florida’s east coast, where some airports and gasoline stations were closed.

Orlando International Airport, one of the largest in the state, planned to cease commercial operations at 2 a.m. on Tuesday because of the storm, it said in a statement.

Walt Disney World Resort <DIS.N> in Orlando will close early on Tuesday, it said in a statement.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered mandatory evacuations for parts of eight coastal counties effective at noon on Monday. More than 830,000 people were under evacuation orders in Charleston and other coastal communities in the state, emergency management officials announced.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp ordered evacuations in six coastal counties, including all of Savannah’s 150,000 residents, also effective at noon on Monday, Kemp’s office said on Twitter.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in his state on Monday, his office said, anticipating the southeast coast could be hit by the storm on Thursday.

Dorian was tied with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, based on maximum sustained winds. Allen in 1980 was the most powerful, with 190-mile (306-kph) winds, the NHC said.

(Reporting by Dante Carrer in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, Gabriella Borter in Titusville, Florida, Peter Szekely in New York, Rich Mckay in Atlanta, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Gareth Jones and Nick Zieminski)

Canary Islands wildfire prompts 9,000 evacuations; reaches park

Trees burnt in a forest fire are seen in the village of Guia, in the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain, August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

TEJEDA, Spain (Reuters) – An out-of-control wildfire on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands kept spreading on Monday, increasing to 9,000 the number of people evacuated from eight municipalities and reaching a natural park, authorities said on Monday.

The blaze, which began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.

Around 6,000 hectares (23.17 square miles) have burned so far and the fire has entered the northwestern Tamadaba natural park, home to some of the island’s oldest pine forests and considered a complicated area for firefighters to intervene.

“We will defeat this serious and damaging fire,” Canary Islands’ regional president Angel Victor Torres said in a statement released by his office.

Gran Canaria’s airport is not being affected by the blaze, it added.

Sixteen planes and helicopters, as well as more than 1,000 firefighters, are working to contain flames as high as 50 metres (164 feet), authorities said.

The blaze marks the second time that Tejeda has been evacuated this month due to wildfire.

(Reporting by Ashifa Kassam and Joan Faus, aditional reporting by Borja Suarez, editing by Andres Gonzalez, Toby Chopra, William Maclean)

Fire resurges on Greece’s Evia, challenges firefighters

A firefighting plane makes a water drop as a wildfire burns near the village of Stavros on the island of Evia, Greece, August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) – Aircraft and firefighters on the ground fought a blaze that burned large tracts of pristine pine forest on the Greek island of Evia on Wednesday as the wildfire flared up again at different spots.

A state of emergency has been declared in regions of the densely forested island east of Athens, after the blaze broke out on Tuesday, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures.

The wildfire had prompted the evacuation of villages and spurred an appeal for help from elsewhere in Europe.

Italy sent two aircraft after an appeal for airborne firefighting equipment from Greek authorities. Although conditions had improved by Wednesday morning, new blazes continued to challenge firefighting efforts.

Water dumping by specially equipped aircraft started at first light. “It is a difficult fire, that’s the reality … there is no danger to human life and that is what is important,” Kostas Bakoyannis, the regional governor for central Greece, told Skai TV.

Fire officials said four villages and hundreds of people were evacuated as a precaution on Tuesday and one firefighter was hospitalized after suffering burns.

“The situation in Evia was very difficult and remains difficult,” Christos Stylianides, the European Union’s aid commissioner, said after meeting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Drawing upon his experience from other forest fires around Europe, Stylianides said he was impressed at the coordination shown among authorities dealing with the emergency, calling firefighters heroes.

“We managed to protect lives and to save people’s property,” Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said.

Greece has bitter memories of a horrific blaze that tore through the seaside town of Mati near Athens in July 2018, killing 102 people in a matter of hours. Authorities were accused then of poor coordination and a slow response.

Mitsotakis, a conservative elected last month, interrupted his holiday on Crete to return to Athens where he was briefed on the situation.

Television images showed flames and plumes of black smoke on mountainsides carpeted in pine. State television said about 28,000 hectares of pine forest was turned to ashes. The smoke was also captured by Copernicus EU satellite imagery.

Copernicus, the European Union’s eyes on earth with two Sentinel-3 satellites in orbit, said it had activated its emergency management service to assist in tracking the wildfire.

Greece often faces wildfires during its dry summer months, and authorities have warned of the high risk of blazes this week. Environmental campaigners see an increasing number of wildfires around the world as a symptom of climate change.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Larry King and Stephen Powell)

Hawaii’s Maui Island wildfire forces evacuations

A thick plume of smoke hovers over a wildfire next to a road in Maui, Hawaii, in this still image taken from a July 11, 2019 video from social media. Drumnicodotcom/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Thousands of residents and visitors on Hawaii’s Maui Island were ordered to evacuate two communities on Thursday as a spreading wildfire sent smoke billowing high into the sky, officials and local media said.

The 3,000 acre brush fire in Maui’s central valley was uncontrolled Thursday night, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino told a news conference. He said firefighters would monitor it overnight but that it was too dangerous to battle the blaze in the dark.

Smoke blankets the sky as a wildfire spreads in Maui, Hawaii, in this July 11, 2019 photo obtained from social media. Roger Norris/via REUTERS

Smoke blankets the sky as a wildfire spreads in Maui, Hawaii, in this July 11, 2019 photo obtained from social media. Roger Norris/via REUTERS

“We can’t fight the fire tonight,” he said. “We’re not going to send any firefighters into harm’s way.”

A National Weather Service satellite photo showing smoke hanging over the island was posted on local media and social media sites.

The brush fire was reported about 10:30 a.m., local time, and steady winds of up to 20 mph fanned the flames, officials said. It jumped a highway and spread across fallow fields and more brush. Two helicopters from the fire department also dropped water on the blaze to try to contain it.

While thousands were ordered evacuated, it was unclear how many people fled the west Maui coastal communities of Maalaea and Kihei. But three shelters housed about 500 people late Thursday, media reports said.

The Maui High School housed about 200 cats and dogs moved from a local animal shelter, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Kahului Airport was briefly closed and flights were diverted because of the smoke, which also forced the closure of two major roads. But operations were back to normal around 7 p.m. local time, media reported.

No injuries or damage to structures were reported, but some farm equipment burned, Hawaii News Now reported.

Neither Maui County officials nor a representative with the county’s Emergency Operations Center were available for comment early on Friday.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Papua New Guinea volcanic eruptions force 15,000 from their homes

FILE PHOTO - Ash billows from Mount Ulawun during a volcanic eruption, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea June 26, 2019 in this still image taken from social media video. Eroli Tamara via REUTERS

By Alison Bevege

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Volcanic eruptions in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have forced 15,000 villagers in the country’s northeast to flee their homes, aid agencies said on Sunday.

Mount Ulawun on PNG’s northeastern island of New Britain exploded suddenly on Wednesday, shooting an ash column 18 km (11.18 miles) into the air, while nearby Manam erupted on Friday, sending dangerous pyroclastic flows down its slopes.

There were no reported casualties but the eruptions destroyed homes, plantations and wells, leaving villagers without food and water while ash columns disrupted domestic flights.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said as of Sunday, 3,775 people had fled the Manam eruption and 11,047 people from the Mount Ulawun eruption and taken shelter in refugee centers.

Volcanic ash has blanketed the area with tiny glass-like particles that can permanently damage the lungs, leading to sickness or death.

Leo Mapmani of the West New Britain Provincial Disaster Centre said health risks from the ash falls meant people were unable to return to their homes while the dust would damage food crops if rains did not wash it off soon.

“If it is on the hilltops and the treetops and the wind blows, people will inhale it,” he told Reuters by telephone from West New Britain’s provincial capital of Kimbe.

Manam Island resident Jordan Sauba told local media his house was destroyed by ash and stones.

“We had nowhere to go so we went under the house and hid there for at least eight hours,” he said from Manam Island.

PNG Red Cross, provincial governments, provincial disaster centers and the Salvation Army have taken emergency supplies to the shelters, IFRC PNG head Udaya Regmi told Reuters on Sunday.

It was unclear when villagers would be able to return to their homes, he said.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape visited the Ulawun refuge shelters in West New Britain province on Sunday. Marape had previously said he would send the defense force to help.

Steve Saunders, principal geodetic surveyor at the Rabaul Volcano Observatory told Reuters that Manam was expected to continue to erupt with active lava flows from the summit to the sea.

“Satellites are monitoring the gas and temperatures and we’re monitoring deformation to see if we have any uplift,” he said.

(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Sam Holmes)

 

Cyclone slams into Indian temple town, Bangladesh braces with evacuation order

Stranded passengers rest inside a railway station after trains between Kolkata and Odisha were cancelled ahead of Cyclone Fani, in Kolkata, India, May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

By Jatindra Dash and Serajul Quadir

BHUBANESWAR, India/ DHAKA (Reuters) – A cyclone barreled into eastern India on Friday, damaging houses in the tourist town of Puri and wounding 160 people after a million people were moved into storm shelters.

Trees were uprooted, power and telecom lines snapped as Tropical Cyclone Fani, the strongest storm to hit India in five years, swept ashore the eastern state of Odisha.

Bangladesh, which lies further up the path of Tropical Cyclone Fani, ordered the evacuation of 2.1 million people before the storm arrives on Saturday.

Indian government spokesman Sitanshu Kar said there were no reports of deaths but 160 people were believed injured.

Trees are blown by strong winds ahead of cyclone Fani's landfall in Puri, India, May 3, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Mandatory credit Likan Patra/via REUTERS

Trees are blown by strong winds ahead of cyclone Fani’s landfall in Puri, India, May 3, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Mandatory credit Likan Patra/via REUTERS

Bangladesh’s junior disaster minister Enamur Rahman said 56 thousand volunteers were racing to move millions out of the storm’s path.

Fani spent days building up power in the northern reaches of the Bay of Bengal before it struck the coast of Odisha at around 8 a.m., the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Howling winds gusting up to 200 kph (124 mph) whipsawed trees, uprooting scores, and driving rain impacted visibility, while streets were deserted in the state capital Bhubaneswar and Puri.

“Damage in Puri is extensive, power supply, telephone lines disrupted,” Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi told Reuters, referring to the seaside Hindu temple town that is popular with pilgrims and was directly in the storm’s path.

Cyclone tracker Tropical Storm Risk put Fani as a powerful category four storm on a scale of one to five. The IMD said the storm was now weakening.

Close to 60 km (37 miles) inland, winds brought down electricity poles in Bhubaneswar, where authorities had ordered the airport to stay closed. Schools and colleges in Odisha were also shut. A major hospital in the city suffered extensive structural damage but all patients and staff were safe, authorities said.

Trees are blown by strong winds at a neighbourhood in Puri, India, May 3, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Mandatory credit Lushna Patra/via REUTERS

Trees are blown by strong winds at a neighborhood in Puri, India, May 3, 2019, in this picture obtained from social media. Mandatory credit Lushna Patra/via REUTERS

“PANIC SITUATION”

“It was a massive cyclone, like many others our house is flooded. Boundary walls of houses around us have collapsed, trees have been uprooted. It is a panic situation,” Anuradha Mohanty, a Bhubaneswar resident, told Reuters.

People packed into shelters, spreading mats to wait out the storm, television and social media showed.

More than 600 pregnant women were shifted into safe locations, with nearly 500 ambulances on standby. Some 242 medical institutions had been provided with power back-up, government authorities said.

Heavy rains lashed the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka and a few coastal districts of the country. Seaports have been ordered shut, a government official said.

The storm is not expected to touch the country’s southeastern district of Cox&rsquo;s Bazar where nearly a million Rohingya Muslims are sheltered.

Plants of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, the country&rsquo;s top refiner, and power producer NTPC Ltd are operating normally in Odisha.

India’s cyclone season can last from April to December when severe storms batter coastal cities and cause widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in both India and neighboring Bangladesh.

But recent technological advances have helped meteorologists predict weather patterns more accurately and prepare.

A super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours in 1999, killing 10,000 people. In 2013, a mass evacuation of nearly a million people likely saved thousands of lives.

Cyclones typically quickly lose power as they move inland.

(Writing by Mayank Bhardwaj and Devjyot Ghoshal; additional reporting by Serajul Quadir in DHAKA; Promit Mukherjee in MUMBAI; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Nick Macfie and Alison Williams)

India launches mass evacuation, shuts down ports as cyclone bears down

Clouds loom ahead of cyclone Fani in Visakhapatnam, India, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

By Jatindra Dash

BHUBANESHWAR, India (Reuters) – India began evacuating hundreds of thousands of villagers on Wednesday and shut down operations at two major ports on its east coast ahead of an impending cyclone expected to make landfall on Friday.

The state of Odisha has also moved in thousands of disaster management personnel to help those living in mud-and-thatch homes in low-lying areas take shelter from Severe Cyclonic Storm Fani.

“We are making best efforts to inform them about the cyclone and move these vulnerable people to cyclone shelters,” Bishnupada Sethi, the state’s special relief commissioner, told Reuters.

Tourists have also been advised to leave the coastal temple town of Puri, a sacred destination for Hindu pilgrims.

India’s cyclone season generally lasts from April to December with severe storms leading to evacuations of tens of thousands, widespread deaths and damage to crops and property, both in India and Bangladesh.

Authorities at ports in Paradip and Visakhapatnam ordered ships to move out to sea to avoid damage.

“Paradip port operations will be suspended from tonight, all vessels have been told to leave the port,” S.K Mishra, traffic manager at the port told Reuters.

Two decades ago, a super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people. In 2013, a mass evacuation of nearly a million people saved thousands of lives.

Tropical Storm Risk cyclone tracker labeled Fani a category 3 storm on a scale of a low 1 to a powerful 5.

(Additional reporting by Neha Dasgupta in NEW DELHI; Writing by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Kirsten Donovan)

Canadian capital of Ottawa declares state of emergency as waters swell

A man and woman hold hands while walking through a flooded residential area in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

MONTREAL/OTTAWA (Reuters) – Rising waters were prompting further evacuations in central Canada on Thursday, with the mayor of the country’s capital, Ottawa, declaring a state of emergency and Quebec authorities warning that a hydroelectric dam was at risk of breaking.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared the emergency in response to rising water levels along the Ottawa River and weather forecasts that called for significant rainfall on Friday.

A man looks out at a flooded residential area in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

A man looks out at a flooded residential area in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

In a statement on Twitter, Watson asked for help from the Ontario provincial government and the country’s military.

He warned that “flood levels are currently forecasted to exceed the levels that caused significant damage to numerous properties in the city of Ottawa in 2017.”

Spring flooding had killed one person and forced more than 900 people from their homes in Canada&rsquo;s Quebec province as of 1 p.m. on Thursday, according to a government website.

Ottawa has received 80 requests for service related to potential flooding such as sandbagging, a city spokeswoman said.

The prospect of more rain over the next 24 to 48 hours triggered concerns on Thursday that the hydroelectric dam at Bell Falls in the western part of Quebec could be at risk of failing because of rising water levels.

Quebec’s provincial police said 250 people were protectively removed from homes in the area as of late afternoon in case the dam on the Rouge River breaks.

The dam is now at its full flow capacity of 980 cubic meters per second of water, said Francis Labb&eacute;, a spokesman for the province’s state-owned utility, Hydro Quebec. He said Hydro Quebec expected the flow could rise to 1,200 cubic meters per second of water over the next two days.

“We have to take the worst-case scenario into consideration, since we`re already at the maximum capacity,” Labb&eacute; said by phone.

The dam is part of a power station that no longer produces electricity, but is regularly inspected by Hydro Quebec, he said.

(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and David Ljunggren and Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney)