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Taiwan aborigines protest resettlement after deadly typhoon

Taiwanese indigenous people sing and dance during a protest in Taipei on August 7, 2010 against the government's resettlement plans ahead of the one-year anniversary of a deadly typhoon. Thousands of indigenous people villagers were left homeless when Typhoon Morakot ravaged Taiwan last year, leaving more than 700 people dead or missing in one of the island's worst natural disasters. Photo courtesy AFP.

Philippine weather boss axed after wrong forecast
Manila (AFP) Aug 6, 2010 - President Benigno Aquino replaced the head of the Philippine weather service Friday after blaming him for failing to adequately warn the public of a mid-July typhoon that later killed 111 people. "I trusted everybody involved, so when (Typhoon Conson) hit us I was surprised," Aquino told reporters. He said that managerial changes would be made at the state weather service, called the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The government later announced that Prisco Nilo would leave his job as PAGASA administrator.

The Nilo-led state weather service received a public dressing down from an angry Aquino after Conson struck Manila, a metropolis of more than 12 million people, instead of the northern Philippines as the service had forecast. Nilo could not be reached for comment Friday. A member of his staff told AFP Nilo had just stepped out of his office. The Philippines is in the so-called typhoon belt of the Pacific, and up to 20 typhoons sweep through the country each year, killing hundreds of people. The weather service has complained of low budgets and inadequate equipment. Graciano Yumul, a junior minister at the science and technology ministry, would temporarily handle Nilo's job until a permanent replacement is found, said Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo.

Tropical Storm Colin heads towards Bermuda
Miami (AFP) Aug 6, 2010 - Tropical Storm Colin barreled towards Bermuda Friday, with US forecasters saying the weather system could clip the island, or even pass directly over it, but was not likely to affect the US east coast. At 11:00 am local time (1500 GMT) the storm was about 380 miles (615 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda, packing sustained winds of 45 miles (75 kilometers) a hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. "The center of Colin is expected to pass just west of Bermuda on Saturday or Sunday night. However only a slight deviation to the east of the forecast track could bring the center over the island," it said.

Forecasters said the system was expected to produce "coastal flooding and large and battering waves in Bermuda," and would drop between three to five inches of rain on the island. "Little change in strength is expected today, with some strengthening forecast tonight and Saturday," the center added. Colin is the third tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through the end of November.
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) Aug 7, 2010
Hundreds of Taiwanese indigenous villagers staged a protest on Saturday against the government's resettlement plans ahead of the one-year anniversary of a deadly typhoon.

"Guard the homeland" and "oppose forced resettlement", shouted the protesters, from central and southern Taiwan, as they gathered in a square leading to the presidential office in the capital Taipei.

"We are forced to move out of our lands and this will destroy our tribes and cultures," said organiser Omi Wiling.

"We want to have a say in the resettlement process. The government neither understands nor respects our way of life."

About 500 villagers camped in the square late Friday to demand President Ma Ying-jeou hear their requests, he said.

Thousands of indigenous villagers were left homeless when Typhoon Morakot ravaged Taiwan last year, leaving more than 700 people dead or missing in one of the island's worst natural disasters.

The authorities have since built 1,480 new houses accommodating nearly 6,000 people, according to a cabinet statement.

Taiwan's government stressed that it has never forced the villagers to move and that all resettlement are voluntary.

The government faced a wave of public anger over its handling of the disaster, plunging Ma into his worst political crisis since taking office in 2008.

His approval rating fell plummeted to 16 percent in the aftermath of the typhoon, compared with to an all-time high of 79 percent in the days after his victory at the polls in March 2008.

earlier related report
Taiwan remembers 700 killed on typhoon anniversary
Taipei (AFP) Aug 8, 2010 - Taiwan paid tribute on Sunday to more than 700 people killed or missing in Typhoon Morakot a year ago, one of the island's worst natural disasters.

The typhoon slammed into Taiwan in August 2009, bringing powerful winds and torrential rain that left at least 614 people dead and 75 missing, including an estimated 400 buried in the village of Hsiaolin alone.

Typhoon Morakot dumped a record three metres (120 inches) of rain and some experts have since warned that global warming could trigger another similarly powerful storm in a year or two.

"Last year's Morakot brought Taiwan the worst flooding in 100 years and caused havoc... the unusual torrential rains were a signal of climate change," Vice President Vincent Siew said at a ceremony in Taipei.

President Ma Ying-jeou was to attend an evening memorial service in the southern city of Kaohsiung to commemorate the victims from Hsiaolin village.

While the opposition blamed the Ma administration for what they alleged was a slow response to the flooding, Ma has termed the typhoon a "painful lesson" and is now introducing a tough new planning law.

Over the past year, the authorities have built 1,480 new houses accommodating nearly 6,000 people, according to a cabinet statement.

But the homeless -- most of them aboriginals -- remain unhappy at the government moves. About 500 indigenous villagers staged a rally outside the presidential office Saturday in protest at the resettlement plans.

The government faced a wave of public anger over its handling of the disaster, plunging Ma into his worst political crisis since taking office in 2008.

His approval rating fell plummeted to 16 percent in the aftermath of the typhoon, compared with to an all-time high of 79 percent in the days after his election victory in March 2008.




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Scientists forecast nine more Atlantic hurricanes, five big ones
Miami (AFP) Aug 4, 2010
The forecast for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season calls for nine more hurricanes by November, including five major ones with winds topping 178 kilometers (110 miles) per hour, a Colorado State University study said Wednesday. The predictions for a "much more active than average" June-November hurricane season includes 18 named tropical storms, three of which - Alex, Bonnie and Colin - ha ... read more

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