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SHAKE AND BLOW
Two dead, 27 missing as flood engulfs Indonesia boat
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Jan 26, 2014


Expert: Ancient tablet with ark-building guide not proof of Noah story
London (UPI) Jan 24, 2013 - A 3,700-year-old clay tablet in the British Museum with instructions on how to build a round boat does not mean Noah's Ark ever existed, a researcher says.

Noah's ark was never built and never landed on Mount Ararat, museum expert Irving Finkel said, despite the existence of ancient instructions on exactly how to construct one.

"I am 107 percent convinced the ark never existed," Finkel told The Guardian, after a member of the public brought the battered clay tablet with 60 lines of neat cuneiform text to him.

Finkel is one of the few people in the world able to read the ancient text, from the time of the Babylonians.

The tablet describes how to build a round ark -- not the pointed-end wooden boat of biblical illustrations -- known as a coracle.

At 4,300 square yards in dimension -- two-thirds the size of a soccer field -- it would be made like a giant rope basket strengthened with wooden ribs, and waterproofed with bitumen inside and out.

It would have been a giant version of a kind of craft the Babylonians knew very well, Finkel said, and such round boats were in daily use up to the late 20th century for crossing rivers.

But Finkel said he does not believe the biblical ark of Noah ever existed, despite the existence of the tablet.

The tablet is evidence not that the vessel once existed, he said, but of a storyteller adding convincing details for an audience that knew all about boat-building.

A flash flood surged down a mountain and capsized a boat on the coast of a northern Indonesian island, leaving two people dead and 27 missing, a disaster official said Sunday.

Eight people managed to escape when water engulfed the boat early Saturday on remote Siau island during a tropical downpour, the official said, in an area hit by deadly landslides and floods in recent weeks.

"The flood was so strong that it capsized a small boat on the coast of Siau," Bagus Tjahjono, a senior official at the national disaster agency, told AFP.

It was not clear what type of vessel was involved in the accident but boats are commonly used for transport in the area.

Siau is part of a group of small islands above the major, northern island of Sulawesi.

Sulawesi has also been badly hit. On Saturday one person died when floods swept away his riverside house, while a second died in hospital from injuries sustained in earlier flooding.

The latest deaths on Siau and Sulawesi take the toll from flooding and landslides in the area in recent weeks to 23, according to the disaster agency.

Flooding and landslides occur frequently across Indonesia during the six-month rainy season.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said an average of 541 people have died every year from floods and landslides in the sprawling archipelago over the past decade.

Paris at high risk from once-a-century flood: OECD
Paris (AFP) Jan 24, 2014 - The Paris region would be highly vulnerable to exceptional flooding of the River Seine, the OECD said Friday, warning that a once-a-century event would cripple France's commercial, political and cultural hub.

Roads, rail, sewerage, electricity and water systems would be knocked out across much of the Ile-de-France region, which accounts for a third of France's economic activity, it said.

A repeat of the city's costliest flood, in 1910, would affect up to five million people and threaten 400,000 jobs, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) grouping of advanced economies.

A quarter of the region's electricity network would go down, 140 of the 250 kilometres (87 of the 150 miles) of Paris' subway (Metro) system would be closed, and bridges over the river at the heart of the city would be closed to vehicles.

About five million people would suffer "extended" cuts in their water supply. Another 1.3 million would have access to water, but of inferior quality.

The immediate economic costs would range from three billion to 30 billion euros ($4 billion to $40 billion) depending on the flood's duration. Over the following five years, gross domestic product (GDP) would be cut by between 0.1 and three percent -- equal to 1.5 billion to 58.5 billion euros.

The flooding could last in some places for weeks, given that the Seine tends to rise but also recede very slowly, the OECD said.

The report said the shock of the 1910 flood and smaller floods in 1924 and 1955 had prompted the building of dams upstream and civil engineering works in the city itself to prevent floods.

But this investment trailed off in the early 1990s, it said. Since then, the building of factories, offices, homes and roads in flood-prone zones along the river has revived the risk.

"Major investment has been modest in recent decades, and it would appear that protection is not at the same level of standard as in comparable OECD countries, particularly in Europe," the OECD warned.

It called for a greater effort to beef up flood resilience in essential services.

The report cautioned that "once-a-century" flooding may be a low benchmark. It noted this standard had already been breached by floods in recent years in Queensland, Bangkok, Pakistan and Germany and in New York by Tropical Storm Sandy.

A European Union flood directive, factoring in the likely impact of climate change, uses once-in-a-millennium events as the benchmark for flood preparedness, it added.

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SHAKE AND BLOW
30,000 displaced by deadly floods in Indonesian capital
Jakarta (AFP) Jan 19, 2014
More than 30,000 Indonesians have fled their homes in the capital due to flooding that has left five dead, officials said Sunday, with people using rubber dinghies and wading through waist-deep water to reach safer ground. Many parts of Jakarta were under murky, brown water after days of torrential rain produced the city's first significant floods of the months-long rainy season. Buildin ... read more


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