News Wrap: Volcanic eruption in Indonesia forces evacuation of 100,000
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JUDY WOODRUFF: This was the day after for much of the Eastern Seaboard, digging out from the latest winter storm. In parts of the Northeast, snowfall topped two feet, and, in the South, nearly half-a-million customers spent a third day with no power. The storm was also blamed for 25 deaths.
Hari Sreenivasan reports on the day’s developments.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Heaps and heaps of snow made a messy aftermath as the big storm moved on. Plows and trucks worked overtime to clear streets from the Deep South, all the way to the Northeast and New England.
But, for many, the morning commute was treacherous. One stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike outside Philadelphia had three separate pileups this morning.
WOMAN: There was a big truck right behind me, and he didn’t stop in time. He slid into the back of me, which pushed me right into the BMW.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, it was back to work for federal employees after yesterday’s snow day. But many had to step gingerly on sidewalks and streets coated in ice.
In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy declared a road salt emergency, with some municipalities running out.
GOV. DANNEL MALLOY, D-Conn.: Storms are variable, so some folks have burned through the salt that they have had faster than other towns. And so we’re going to make sure that people have salt, but we’re not planning for two weeks. We’re planning for 60 days of weather conditions that we may have to respond to.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Here in New York City, the mounds of snow are melting with the warmer weather, and they’re leaving slushy, wet streets behind. But it’s just a brief break in the temperature. Tomorrow, we’re expected to have more snow, and next week, bitterly cold winds are in the forecast.
This storm gave the city a rare look at thundersnow last night, as lightning lit up the skies. But traveling by air remained a daunting prospect, with more than a thousand new cancellations today. For the week, more than 14,000 flights have been scrubbed, and for the winter so far, that number is 75,000, the worst in 25 years.
Moreover, the relentless winter is getting the blame for falling retail sales. They plunged more than 9 percent just during the polar vortex storm last month. Car sales also fell last month, with February looking just as bleak. Some dealers say they have had no customers for two or three days this week.
And the floral industry, especially, is feeling the effects on this Valentine’s Day. A number of flower shops have had to suspend deliveries.
BILL GOULDIN, Strange’s Florist & Garden Center: We have to start making decisions of what we are going to do. And when we decided we were going to cut off delivery for the 13th and 14th, that’s a major piece of a florist’s business.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Others, though, pledged to deliver no matter what, trudging through snow and slush in the name of love and money.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The weather was good for one industry, ski resorts, where sales and rentals are going strong, or, as the owner of a New Hampshire ski spot said today, there’s never too much snow. We look more closely at the economic fallout right after the news summary.
A volcano exploded to life on Indonesia’s Java Island overnight, forcing more than 100,000 people to flee. At least three people were killed. Ash and debris that spewed from Mount Kelud blanketed the region for miles. It was eight inches deep in some areas, and workers rushed to protect a famous ninth century Buddhist temple by covering it with plastic sheeting. The eruption was so powerful, it was heard 125 miles away.
People who live in Southern England braced for another night of gale-force winds, hammering waves and more rain. That meant that the already extreme floods afflicting the region will get even worse.
We have a report from John Ray of Independent Television News, who visited a series of coastal towns today.
JOHN RAY: It is unrelenting, barely a chance to catch your breath between crushing waves. From Chesil Beach to Lyme Regis and beyond, the wild southwest wet and windy, with worse still to come. You might watch in awe of nature, but much wiser to make for cover, to batten down the hatches, and to stack up the sandbags once again.
In Dorset, residents are being told to be ready if disaster strikes to evacuate their homes.
MAN: My tiles — I live on top of the island — clang every night when you get 60-, 70-mile-an-hour winds.
JOHN RAY: And tonight, it is going to be much worse, much worse.
MAN: Yes. And every time I think, well, will they stay on? But flooding is the worst thing you can have.
JOHN RAY: There is simply nowhere left for the rain to go. On Exmoor, it is bubbling out of the drains and along the road. There are yet more flood warnings, because along this desolate and devastated coast, they have not yet repaired the damage wrought by the last storm.
Here in Chesil, the shingle beach stands between the sea and the homes below. It is a test of resolve and of nerve.
AMANDA BROUGHTON-SOUTH, resident: One minute, we got the shutters off, and it’s all hands on deck, shutters on and sandbagging everything. And it’s — yes, so it’s a lot of — it’s worrying.
JOHN RAY: But nothing points to an end to the torment. As evening falls, the winds are whipping up and the tides are rising.
This is a winter in which the extreme has become routine and the exceptional the norm. And it is not over yet. Tonight, Britain’s defenses will be tested yet again.
A few might find adventure in adversity, but, for most, it is cold and wet and miserable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Britain’s Environment Agency says it could be weeks before the flooding finally abates.
This was the warmest day yet at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Spectators soaked up the sun, but organizers had to cancel training for two events. Some cross-country skiers even cut their sleeves off to stay cool.
As for the competition, a spoiler alert: Tune out for a moment, if you don’t want to know results just yet. Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu won his country’s first gold medal ever in men’s figure skating. And American Noelle Pikus-Pace took silver behind Britain’s Elizabeth Yarnold in women’s skeleton. We will talk to a reporter at the Winter Games later in the program.
In Syria, a car bomb killed as many as 43 people in a village held by rebels. One opposition activist said the bomb exploded next to a truck filled with diesel, setting the fuel on fire. The blast burned cars and damaged a mosque where worshipers had attended Friday prayers.
A United Nations envoy met separately today with the two factions in the Syrian peace talks, but both sides said they’re at an impasse. The opposition and the Assad regime remained divided over whether to focus on political transition or fighting terror.
LOUAY SAFI, Syrian National Coalition: The regime has not submitted any other proposal for — about transition to democratic practice, away from dictatorship, away from bloodshed, away from imposition of — of the people in power on the population. We hope to receive positive response. We haven’t received anything yet.
FAISAL AL MEKDAD, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister: Those who do not give a chance for discussion and agreement on combating terrorism are definitely not part of the Syrian people, and contradict with the wishes and aspirations of the Syrian people. And we want to continue our discussions until we reach an agreement on this point, because this is crucial for the Syrian people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There were also new questions about Syria’s chemical weapons. Reuters reported the regime has handed over just 11 percent of its stockpile and is likely to miss a June 30 deadline for destroying all of it.
There was progress as North and South Korea met today for their second high-level talks this week. They agreed to go ahead with upcoming reunions of families separated during the Korean War. And the North withdrew a demand that South Korea and the U.S. delay the start of joint military exercises.
A U.N. commission wants the International Criminal Court ¯to prosecute North Korea for crimes against humanity. The Associated Press says the panel has found — quote — “reasonable grounds to merit a criminal investigation by a competent national or international organ of justice.”
It says there’s evidence of extermination and deliberate starvation. North Korea denies it.
Italy has suffered another political upheaval. Enrico Letta resigned as premier, after a rebellion in the ranks of his center-left Democratic Party. That puts Matteo Renzi in position to become the country’s youngest premier ever. He has agitated for sweeping change to rescue Italy’s economy.
The battle over gay marriage in Virginia is headed to a federal appeals court. Last night, a federal judge ruled that the state’s voter-approved ban is unconstitutional. Virginia’s new attorney general, Mark Herring, had declined to defend the ban. He spoke today in Richmond.
MARK HERRING, Virginia Attorney General: The arguments raised by those supporting Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage were essentially the same arguments my predecessors used years ago to justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage and to justify segregated schools. The injustice of Virginia’s position in those cases are not being repeated this time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Virginia is the first Southern state to have its bar against same-sex marriage overturned. But the ruling will be on hold while the appeal goes forward.
On Wall Street today, stocks ended the week on an up note. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 126 points to close at 16,154. The Nasdaq rose three points to close at 4,244. For the week, the Dow gained a little over 2 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 3 percent.