Cyclone Batsirai blows across Indian Ocean toward Madagascar

Publish Date : 2022-02-06 00:00:00

Cyclone Batsirai blows across Indian Ocean toward Madagascar

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — The full force of Cyclone Batsirai is forecast to hit Madagascar Saturday evening, according to weather officials.

The cyclone is gaining strength as it blows across the Indian Ocean, with gale-force winds reaching peaks of 235 kilometers (145 miles) per hour, according to the island’s meteorology department.

The Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association, which represents the Lithuania-registered trawler Margiris, which caught the fish, said in a statement that the fish were “involuntarily released into the sea” on Thursday because of a tear in the trawler’s net.

“Such an accident is a rare occurrence, and in this case was caused by the unexpectedly large size of the fish caught,” it said. It said the trawler has adapted its practices to deal with “the exceptional size of the fish currently in the area concerned.”

Sea Shepherd, however, questioned whether it was an accident or instead an intentional dump of unwanted fish. The group is calling for more policing of the seas — and especially of massive industrial trawlers — to protect sea life and oceans.

“Following its slow and quite variable movement, the expected arrival of the eye is delayed until (Saturday) evening or at night,” said the weather department in a statement.

Batsirai, which means help in the Shona language, is expected to inflict “significant and widespread damage, particularly flooding in the east, the southeast and the central highlands,” said the statement.

As a precaution, 22,000 people have already been evacuated to gymnasiums, schools or churches, especially around Mananjary, on the east coast.

“The wind is getting stronger and there is a lot of rain. The sea is very rough. There are big waves that come down with a lot of force,” Capt. Ravahalahy Heninjoa, commander of Mananjary’s gendarmerie, said Saturday. “You can already feel the cyclone even if the eye has not yet touched the ground.”

The winds have toppled many trees, and electricity has been cut since Friday night, he said.

Further inland, Antananarivo, the capital, experienced rains ahead of the cyclone.

Anticipating widespread destruction, most land and sea transport has been suspended on Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island.

“Almost all regions of the island are at risk,” the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management said, warning that the cyclone threatens nearly 600,000 of the island’s 28 million people.

Forecasters say heavy rains expected across the northern two-thirds of Alabama and into north Georgia will pose a flooding threat for the rest of the work week.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch that includes the metropolitan areas around Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville. Forecasters say the Tennessee Valley region will get 3-5 inches (inches 7.62-12.70 centimeters) of rain, and even more could fall in spots.

The flood watch is scheduled to start at midnight.

Gusty winds and additional heavy rains are possible in north Georgia and eastern Tennessee, according to forecasters.

Rain is predicted to begin Wednesday and last through Thursday night, meaning the flood threat will last into Friday, according to forecasters. There’s also a slight chance of severe weather in southwest Alabama on Thursday, the weather service said.

The storm threat is linked to an advancing cold front that forecasters said will create the possibility of freezing rain in northwest Alabama on Friday morning.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada gambling regulators say their investigation tracked down an Arizona man who left Las Vegas after a visit last month not knowing he’d won a $229,368 slot machine jackpot.

The machine being played by Robert Taylor malfunctioned due to a “communication error” and neither he nor the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino realized that he’d won a progressive jackpot the evening of Jan. 8, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said Friday in a statement.

The jackpot was confirmed later after a review but Taylor had returned to Arizona by then and the casino was unable to identify him, the board’s statement said.

The board said it then began an investigation and eventually identified Taylor after two weeks of checking surveillance video, conducting witness interviews, studying electronic purchase records and reviewing ride-sharing data.

According to the board, it was important to locate Taylor to ensure he received what was owed to him and to maintain public trust in the casino industry.

Taylor, whose hometown was not released, was notified of his jackpot on Jan. 28 and he planned to collect at the casino this weekend, the board said.

Casino representatives did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking additional information.

France and the European Union are investigating why a massive swarm of dead fish was released by a huge trawler in the Atlantic Ocean off France, after an environmental group released dramatic video and photos of the incident.

The images by the group Sea Shepherd show a blanket of dead blue whiting fish floating on the surface of the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of southwest France. The group estimates it held some 100,000 dead fish.

Struck by the “shocking” images, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin tweeted Friday that she ordered the National Center for Fishing Surveillance to investigate what happened.

The European commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, announced an inquiry into “national authorities of the fishing area and presumed flag state of the vessel, to get exhaustive information and evidence about the case.”

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