viernes, 18 de abril de 2008

El humo : The smoke

It may have hit ur news channel as well. Buenos Aires and other parts of Argentina are dealing with severe smoke problems due to, you could say, an escalation in the dragging agricultural dispute. Traffic is effected, the local airport operates with delays, Ezeiza Intl Airport is said to operate normally because so far it has been lucky to be situated on the right side of the fires causing the smoke. Change in wind direction could alter that. Also the subway has problems with it. And also the major routes leading into the city. The smoke reaches even into Uruguay, the neighboring country which is just at close distance from Buenos Aires on the East.

What i heard from someone there it seems to be quite unbearable. And dangerous due to elevated levels of carbon monoxide. If u have respiratory illnesses like asthma it's even harder u can imagine.

Tourism is affected as well. Also some schools have been suspended. and also on the webcams u can see the haze from the smoke.

Video ( Go there for more video as well (in Spanish)

Caos total por el humo que invade diferentes ciudades del país

Let me give u the CNN version of the story.

"Smoke blanketed the Argentine capital on Friday as brush fires apparently set deliberately consumed thousands of acres in the provinces of Buenos Aires and Entre Ríos.

The smoke, from about 300 fires, is blamed for at least two fatal traffic accidents this week that left eight people dead.

Sections of major highways and the Buenos Aires port, among the busiest in the world, have been closed. Incoming flights to the city's domestic airport, Jorge Newbery Airpark, have been diverted.

The Argentine government has blamed farmers looking to clear their land for crops and grazing for the fires, which are estimated to cover 173,000 acres (70,000 hectares ).

"This is the largest fire of this kind that we've ever seen," Argentine Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said Thursday.

Randazzo called the situation a "disaster."

As of Friday morning, little progress had been made extinguishing the blazes.

No rain is predicted for the next few days, but the National Meteorological Service predicts the winds will change direction soon, dispersing the smoke.

On Friday morning, the National Roads Administration closed sections of the heavily traveled Panamericana Highway, which leads in and out of Buenos Aires. Spokesman Ernesto Arriaga said "visibility is 5 meters" (about 16 feet) in some sections of the highway.

"Covering highways with smoke just to clear a field of weeds is unforgivable," Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernandez said in a recent interview with Radio Diez. "It's incredibly irresponsible."

Hospitals have reported an increase in visitors complaining of breathing problems, sore throats and burning eyes in the past three days.

Citing a high level of carbon monoxide in the air, officials have encouraged people not to exercise outside.

Schools in Pilar, a city in the province of Buenos Aires, were closed Friday because of the gray, thick air.

The smoke has obscured views of some of the capital's landmarks, such the Obelisco monument and the government house, Casa Rosada, and people were seen walking on the city streets covering their faces with clothes.

Earlier this month, Argentina's farmers suspended a three-week strike over a new government export tax on commodities.

The bitter lockout left grocery shelves empty and caused major friction between President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's government and Argentina's large agricultural sector."

If u want more up to date news in Spanish try the local newspapers Clarín or LaNacion for example. Full of images and videos as well.