Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone

Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone
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People stand on a rock while waves lashes over at Kovalam beach as cyclone Nivar approaches the eastern Indian coast, in Chennai on November 24, 2020. (AFP)
Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone
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A women walks under an umbrella during heavy rains as cyclone Nivar approaches the eastern Indian coast, in Chennai on November 24, 2020. (AFP)
Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone
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A motorist rides along a street under heavy rains in Chennai as cyclone Nivar approaches the southeastern coast of the country on November 25, 2020. (AFP)
Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone
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People use plastic sheets to cover from heavy rains in Chennai as cyclone Nivar approaches the southeastern coast of the country on November 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 25 November 2020

Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone

Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone
  • The storm, with sustained winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 145 kph (90 mph), is likely to damage crops, trees and houses
  • State governments were expecting widespread damage and canceled flights and trains as a precaution

NEW DELHI: Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in low-lying areas of southern India and moved to evacuation shelters on Wednesday to escape a cyclone that was barreling toward the region’s coast.
Cyclone Nivar is expected to bring heavy downpours after slamming ashore near Mamallapuram and Karaikal in Tamil Nadu state, the Meteorological Department said.
The storm, with sustained winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 145 kph (90 mph), is likely to damage crops, trees, houses and electrical poles, it said in a statement.
S.N. Pradhan, director of India’s National Disaster Response Force, said thousands of emergency personnel have been deployed in coastal regions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry states, where the cyclone was expected to hit Wednesday night.
State governments were expecting widespread damage and canceled flights and trains as a precaution.
In Tamil Nadu’s capital, Chennai, authorities said they are closely monitoring the level of reservoirs and lakes to avoid a repeat of floods in 2015, when nearly 430 people died in the state. Flights at Chennai Airport will remain suspended until Thursday morning.
In Puducherry, top official Kiran Bedi appealed to residents to move to higher areas and stay indoors.
“Move to high places wherever you have to. There are relief centers. Please move there,” Bedi said in a video message on Twitter.
In May, nearly 100 people died after Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit eastern India in more than a decade, ravaged the region and left millions without power.


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
A view of Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket underneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, during test launch of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, U.S. January 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 January 2021

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
  • The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats

LOS ANGELES: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.
A 70-foot-long (21.34-meter-long) LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California, ignited moments later and soared toward space.
The two-stage rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites known as CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving US universities.
The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.
“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” Virgin Orbit tweeted later. “Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers.”
The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats.
The flight developments were announced on social media. The launch was not publicly livestreamed.
Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a wave of companies targeting the launch market for increasingly capable small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.
Competitor Rocket Lab, also headquartered in Long Beach, has deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand. Another of its rockets was nearing launch Sunday.
Virgin Orbit touts the flexibility of its capability to begin its missions by using airports around the globe.
Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020.
The rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The lost payload was only a test satellite.
The company later said an investigation determined there was a breach in a high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to the first-stage combustion chamber.
Virgin Orbit is separate from Virgin Galactic, the company founded by Branson to carry passengers on suborbital hops in which they will experience the sensations and sights of spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial operations this year in southern New Mexico.