WELLINGTON: Several people were injured and several others unaccounted for when New Zealand's White Island volcano erupted suddenly on Monday (Dec 9).
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the volcanic island - also known as Whakaari - off New Zealand's north coast had erupted while groups of tourists were visiting.
At a news conference, Ardern said the authorities believed there were 100 people "on or around the island"
"A number of people are reportedly injured and are now being transported to shore," she added. "It does appear to be a very significant issue ... particularly the scale of people affected, at this stage."
However, New Zealand police later said they believed there to have been fewer than 50 people in the area at the time of the eruption.
"While it was initially believed there were approximately 100 people on or near the island at the time of the eruption, we now believe there were fewer than 50.
"Some of those people have been transported to shore, however a number believed to be on the island are currently accounted for," said the police in a Facebook post, adding that at least one of those transported to shore was "critically injured".
The authorities said they were working with the National Emergency Management Agency to coordinate a search-and-rescue operation. A no-fly zone has been established, they added.
The island is about 50km from North Island in the picturesque Bay of Plenty, and is popular with adventurous tourists willing to don hard hats and gas masks.
The White Island volcano is one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes.
According to the national Met Service, the eruption was visible on satellite images.
Whakatane mayor Judy Turner said "there have been people injured" and rescue missions were under way.
"I don't know how many or the state of their injuries but emergency services are currently frantically trying to get these people back from the island to hospital for treatment," she said.
She added that there seems to be no danger for the people in the coastal areas, farther from the volcano.
St John Ambulance said there were up to 20 people believed injured but medical teams were still en route.
There were particular fears for a group of visitors seen walking on the crater floor moments before the eruption occurred.
Cameras providing a live feed from the volcano showed more than half a dozen people walking inside the rim at 2.10pm local time (9.10am Singapore time), before images went dark when the eruption occurred minutes later.
A report by the NZ Herald said many of those visiting White Island on Monday were from the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas.
Port of Tauranga company chief executive Mark Cairns was quoted as saying that he understood the majority of those injured in the eruption are from the ship.
New Zealand's national emergency crisis centre has been activated.
The volcanic eruption made the area immediately around the island hazardous, the National Emergency Management Agency said in an emailed statement.
The agency described the eruption as "moderate", although a thick plume of white ash could be seen for miles around.
Several helicopters and aircraft could be seen in the area.
The "short-lived eruption" threw an ash plume about 3,658m high, New Zealand's geoscience agency GNS Science said in a statement, but added there were no current signs of an escalation.
White Island is New Zealand's most active volcano cone and about 70 per cent of it is undersea, according to government agency GeoNet.
Around 10,000 people visit the volcano every year. It has erupted frequently over the last half-century, most recently in 2016.
In August of that year the New Zealand Defence Force airlifted a 2.4-tonne shipping container onto the island to serve as an emergency shelter in case of an eruption.
SINGAPORE: Two Jurong Region Line stations will be designed and constructed by the Singapore branch of China Railway 11 Bureau Group, the Land Transport Authority said on Monday (Dec 9).
The S$210.1 million contract for the Jurong West and Bahar Junction stations also includes 1.15km of viaducts.
Jurong West station will be located along Jurong West Avenue 2, adjacent to Jurong West Street 23. The station will have a single island platform serving trains for both the Choa Chu Kang-bound and Jurong Pier-bound directions.
Bahar Junction station will be located along Jurong West Avenue 4, near the junction of Jurong West Street 64 and Street 75. It will have two platforms connected by a 100-metre covered link bridge with travellators.
One platform will serve trains heading to Choa Chu Kang and Jurong Pier while the other platform will serve trains heading to Peng Kang Hill.
LTA said the Singapore branch of the China Railway 11 Bureau Group is an "established and experienced” construction company that has completed various rail-related projects worldwide.
The company has completed several major infrastructure projects in Singapore including three MRT stations - Tuas Link, Tuas West Road and Tuas Crescent stations - and their associated viaducts on the East-West Line’s Tuas West Extension.
“The company also constructed Singapore’s first integrated rail and road viaduct as part of the Tuas West Extension project,” LTA added.
The Jurong Region Line is Singapore’s seventh MRT line, which will open in three stages starting from 2026.
The 24km-long line will have 24 stations above ground, and will connect with the North-South Line and East-West Line with interchange stations at Boon Lay, Choa Chu Kang and Jurong East MRT stations.
The Jurong Region Line is expected to serve 200,000 commuters daily in its initial phase of operation. This is expected to grow to more than 500,000 commuters daily in the longer term, according to LTA.
Construction is expected to start in 2020 and be completed in 2026.
SINGAPORE: At its peak in early 2018, shared bicycles were ubiquitous, with the major bike-sharing firms here claiming millions of users each.
But following the imposition of regulations that capped the number of bikes each company could operate - as well as the dramatic exits of several companies - shared bicycle numbers plunged, and along with them the number of users.
Yet despite this, the three homegrown firms that now make up the sector are optimistic that bike-sharing has a bright future in Singapore.
Last month SG Bike announced it had completed its takeover of Mobike’s bike-sharing licence.
The Beijing-based firm had earlier announced plans to withdraw from the Singapore market.
SG Bike is now able to operate a fleet of 25,000 shared bicycles here, making it the largest player in Singapore’s bike-sharing market.
Two other companies, Anywheel and Moov Mobility, were both authorised by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to operate 10,000 bicycles each earlier this year.
Between the three companies, the total number of shared bicycles allowed on the streets here stands at 45,000.
“For me right now, this is really quite surreal,” said SG Bike chief operating officer Sean Tay. “If you told me two years ago that we would be buying over Mobike, I wouldn’t believe you.”
Taking over Mobike’s operations drastically increased SG Bike’s fleet, which stood at 3,000 bicycles under its previous licence.
This, he said, places SG Bike in a better position to achieve its goal of making shared-bikes what he termed the “fourth mode of public transport”, after buses, trains and taxis.
REGAINING USER CONFIDENCE
In early 2018, there were six companies - Anywheel, GBikes, Mobike, oBike, ofo, Share Bike SG and SG Bike - offering about 200,000 dockless shared bicycles in Singapore.
The wheels came off for oBike in June of that year, however, when the company unexpectedly announced it was shuttering its business here.
The company cited an inability to comply with the LTA’s then-new licensing regime, which would have required it to pay the authorities S$60 in fees per bike and implement measures to deter indiscriminate parking.
The move left about 70,000 of oBike’s bicycles scattered around the island, with more than 200,000 users owed S$8.9 million in unrefunded deposits.
Two other companies, Gbikes and Share Bike SG, also shut down their operations in 2018.
In April this year, ofo’s licence to operate a bike-sharing service in Singapore was cancelled by the LTA, as it was unable to meet the authority’s regulatory requirements.
This came after the Beijing-based company was reported to be experiencing “immense cash flow problems” late last year.
These developments caused users to lose confidence in bike-sharing, said Anywheel chief executive Htay Aung.
While other bike-sharing companies were able to rapidly expand a few years ago as they were flushed with cash, dumping thousands of bikes in each city they rolled into, the relatively smaller operations of the existing players meant they have had to take a more strategic approach.
SG Bike – whose majority shareholder is estate upgrading company ISOTeam - first launched in 2017 with a fleet of just 300 bicycles in the Holland-Bukit Panjang area.
Though its fleet size has grown, SG Bike is continuing with its town-by-town expansion approach, which it says is a more sustainable way of growing its business.
SG Bike will first begin deploying Mobike's bicycles in Punggol, before expanding to other parts of the north-east region and then the rest of Singapore.
The easy availability of bikes in a particular area is more likely to fuel demand rather than rapidly deploying them across the island, said SG Bike marketing director Benjamin Oh.
“When you’re a lot smaller, you’re forced to think in this manner. It made us think about how to be creative and consider the sustainability of the business,” said Mr Tay.
Anywheel runs on a similar strategy, said Mr Htay Aung, adding his firm does not overspend or deploy more bikes than it feels is sustainable.
“I never really saw them (SG Bike) as competitors because we are both local startups and both our companies have very similar business models,” he said.
Companies must operate responsibly and prudently to regain customer trust, said Mr Htay.
Though personal mobility devices and e-bikes may fulfill some of commuters first-and-last mile transport needs, bicycles remain the most flexible option, said Mr Tay.
And while some of the hype over shared-bikes may have died down over the last two years, there is still an “inherent demand” for bicycles to meet these needs, said Mr Tay.
“We don’t want the hype. What we are trying to do is create a sustainable business,” said Mr Htay Aung.
Ridership of Anywheel’s bicycles is constantly increasing, he added, though he declined to provide figures.
“I wouldn’t say we are profitable yet, but from our data I believe we could be profitable, hopefully by the second or third quarter of next year,” he said.
He notes Anywheel is rapidly expanding in Malaysia, where it also offers shared e-scooters, and expects to launch in Thailand by the end of the year.
The company is also expanding into offering power-assisted bicycles – otherwise known as e-bikes – both in Singapore and regionally.
Though there may be regulatory hurdles to offering shared e-bikes, one other option would be to rent them out to delivery companies, he noted, adding it hopes for these e-bikes to be available by March or April next year.
Moov Mobility, the third shared-bike operator here, is planning to launch e-bike sharing operations in a number of cities in the Asia-Pacific region, and also hopes to bring such a service to Singapore.
The company developed bikes, e-bikes and e-motorbikes for sharing, to meet the needs of the regional market, said Moov's chief executive Sharon Meng.
Having made its debut here in the middle of this year, rolling out 1,000 refurbished ofo bicycles in the Western part of Singapore, Moov aims to have all 10,000 bikes available islandwide by the first quarter of next year.
Ms Meng – who was previously with Mobike as its Singapore country manager – told CNA it is looking at partnering with other organisations for sponsorship as part of its business sustainability strategy.
"Almost all high quality sharing systems around the world require some combination of advertising, sponsorship and government subsidies to cover the operating cost and ensure that private operators price the service within the reach of the key user groups," she said.
SG Bike declined to provide information on ridership or profitability, noting its parent company ISOTeam is publicly-listed.
On its part, the LTA has halved the licencing fees for bike-sharing operators, with a full two-year licence now priced at S$15 per bike - down from S$30 previously - while sandbox licences are priced at S$6 per bike, down from S$12.
"The lower fees will reduce compliance costs for operators," said an LTA spokesperson, adding such regulations and fees are regularly reviewed to ensure they "keep pace with market developments".
"This supports device-sharing operators in providing active mobility options for first- and last-mile journeys, and contributes to our vision of becoming a more car-lite society."
The S$30 refundable security deposit firms have to pay for each bicycle deployed - which is aimed at defraying the cost of removing bikes should a firm go bust - remains unchanged.
Reporters reported last Friday that in line with the reduced fees, the LTA had refunded more than S$570,000 in total to Mobike and the three existing operators.
ROOM TO GROW
Observers shared the operators' optimism.
Mr Li Jianggan, chief executive officer of startup accelerator Momentum Works, said he still believes there is a future for companies in the bike-sharing space here.
"The market could easily become profitable for a small number of players running at enclosed places such as towns and parks," he added.
"Since oBike and others flooded the market, the sector never managed to develop in a sustainable and profitable manner. Now with the craze over, there is actually a chance."
With investors no longer willing to pour as much funding into bike-sharing, Mr Li suggested that companies should avoid unnecessary competition.
Cycling advocate Francis Chu, the co-founder of enthusiast group LoveCycling SG, also believes there is still room for bike-sharing services in Singapore, citing their usefulness for short commutes.
He said companies must ensure their bikes are well-maintained and have enough manpower on hand to relocate improperly parked bicycles, adding more bikes should be made available.
“Right now there are too few bikes to support a reasonable level of service,” said Mr Chu, who himself ran a short-lived bike-share scheme in the one-north area in 2012.
Despite losing his S$39 deposit to ofo, photographer Lim Yong Teck said he would still be interested in using shared bicycles.
"I’d be worried if I lose a lot of money, but in this case I think (bike-sharing) is great for commuters," said the 30-year-old.
"The bikes do make getting around to places a little bit more convenient, and quicker."
All three firms see room to grow in the Singapore market, and hope to expand their fleets further in the future.
“The three of us combined, with 45,000 bikes, that’s way below what the market demand is,” said Mr Htay Aung.
SINGAPORE: Three types of metformin diabetes medications are being recalled after they were found to contain trace amounts of an impurity, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Thursday (Dec 5).
The affected medications are one batch of Glucient XR Tablet 500mg supplied by Glorious Dexa Singapore and all batches of 750mg and 1000mg versions of Meijumet Prolonged Release Tablet, supplied by Pharmazen Medical.
All three drugs were found to contain amounts of a type of nitrosamine impurity – known as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) – which are above the internationally acceptable level.
HSA said that it has tested all 46 locally marketed metformin medicines and found that the other 43 drugs were not affected.
HSA added that the risk to patients who have been taking the three affected metformin medicines is “very low”.
“This is because the potential risk of nitrosamines is associated with long-term use, and the three affected medicines have only been supplied locally for a short period of time since last year.”
NDMA is commonly found in low levels in processed food such as pickled vegetables, salted fish and processed meat products such as bacon and sausages. It is also found in the environment and is present in air pollution.
Nitrosamine impurities have also recently been found to have formed unexpectedly during the manufacture of some medicine.
PATIENTS SHOULD NOT STOP TAKING MEDICATION
Patients taking the affected metformin medicines are advised not to stop treatment on their own, as the sudden stopping of medicines will raise blood sugar levels, which may pose a greater health risk.
Healthcare professionals have been advised by HSA to contact their affected patients to arrange for an exchange of their medicines as soon as possible. Patients who are concerned about their current treatment can speak to their doctor or pharmacist.
HSA said that it is also working with the companies supplying these medicines as well as international regulatory agencies to verify the causes of the contamination, and to address the issue.
According to HSA, worldwide recalls have been conducted for the affected products.
Acceptable levels of nitrosamines are set in nanograms and is based on what is considered as reasonably safe if a patient continues to take the affected medicine every day for a lifetime of 70 years.
For example, the added cancer risk from an additional six-month exposure is estimated to be less than 0.00002 per cent.
“The additional risk posed by NDMA from metformin, at the levels detected, is considered very low,” HSA said.
SINGAPORE: The Cross Island Line (CRL) will take a direct route under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), the Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on Wednesday (Dec 4).
This comes after years of debate and consultation over the routes Singapore’s longest MRT line would take.
Nature groups and environmentalists had previously raised concerns that the direct route - which will include a 2km tunnel under the CCNR - could have an impact on Singapore's wildlife and nature.
The other route considered was a 9km stretch skirting the reserve and going under homes and businesses.
"After in-depth studies of the two underground alignment options for the stretch of the Cross Island Line in the vicinity of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and extensive public consultations with various stakeholders, the Government has studied the trade-offs and selected on the direct alignment option which runs 70m under the CCNR," said MOT.
CHEAPER, MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
In explaining its decision, the ministry said the direct route offers shorter travelling time by about six minutes per commuter per trip, compared to the skirting alignment.
For example, a commuter travelling from Ang Mo Kio to Clementi would need about 32 minutes with the direct route, instead of about 38 minutes with the skirting route.
The direct route will also lower public transport fares by about 15 per cent on average due to a shorter and more direct route, MOT said. It also presents a reduction in construction costs by about S$2 billion for taxpayers.
"In the longer term, it is a more environmentally-friendly option as the direct alignment has a lower energy consumption," MOT said.
Since the CRL was first announced in 2013, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has conducted Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies on the two CRL routes and invited the members of the public to give their feedback.
It has also held engagement sessions with stakeholders, including nature and heritage groups, grassroots leaders and affected residents.
"LTA has been and is fully committed to implementing all practicable environmental mitigation measures recommended by the EIA," said MOT.
Based on the sessions, LTA said the 2km tunnel under the CCNR will be about 70m deep, as opposed to the typical 20m to 30m, with no surface work sites in the nature reserve to ensure that flora and fauna will not be affected.
"Normally, MRT tunnels are about 30m deep under. With CRL, we decided to go much deeper, so that any impact on the flora and fauna in the nature reserve can be almost completely eliminated," said Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan in a Facebook post after MOT's announcement.
"We also consulted international experts to make sure that our plan will work. 70m is equivalent to a 25-storey HDB block. This decision will increase the estimated project development cost by at least S$20 million."
LTA previously said it will be optimising the location and layout of the two surface work sites required for the direct route to minimise land use and reduce any potential disturbance to nearby plants and animals.
"LTA deeply appreciates the contributions and feedback from all stakeholders over the past six years. This includes nature groups, heritage groups, residents and grassroots leaders, whose participation has deeply enriched the planning process, and enlarged the common space for civic-minded debate," MOT said.
The CRL, Singapore’s eighth MRT line, will stretch from Jurong to Changi and is expected to save commuters up to 30 minutes to 45 minutes of travel time. The journey from Pasir Ris to Jurong is expected to take about 55 minutes.
The line is expected to have a daily ridership of more than 600,000 in the initial years, growing to more than 1 million in the longer term.
It will also connect existing radial MRT lines, with almost half of its stations being interchange stations, and is part of a plan to almost double Singapore's rail network by 2030 and help put eight out of 10 households within a 10-minute walk of a train station.
"CRL is a critical transport infrastructure. It will vastly improve the quality of life for those commuters who need to cross the Island regularly," said Mr Khaw.
"It will interchange with almost all the other MRT lines and hence raise the network resilience.
"The CRL will also support the development of new hubs such as the Jurong Lake District and the new BTO estates in Sengkang, Punggol and Hougang. CRL will meet the needs of a million commuters."
The first phase of the CRL, consisting of 12 stations, is expected to open by 2029.
"A PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH"
Nature groups said they were mostly satisfied with the EIA studies and urged the Government to be cautious of any residual impact on the environment.
They said that even an “incremental impact can snowball over a period of time” to degrade the ecosystem of an area.
“While reaffirming our reservations concerning the methodology employed in assessing impact significance, we note that even the consultants have acknowledged that residual impacts of works underneath CCNR is still of ‘moderate’ significance, ie far from negligible,” the statement read.
“We would still urge the Government to take a precautionary approach and not to add more strains on the wildlife populations in a habitat that has already been stressed by so many perturbations.”
Nature Society (Singapore) president Shawn Lum said that the impact of tunnelling and other works could be kept to a "moderate level" if mitigation measures were properly implemented.
He added the direct alignment of the CRL posed concerns to wildlife found in and around the proposed worksite on Island Club Road, noting that having the rail line skirt around the nature reserve would also have posed other nature and wildlife concerns.
"Paramount among these is the critically endangered Raffles Banded Langur and its forest habitat," said Dr Lum.
"We hope, together with the LTA and other agencies, that we can continue to refine detailed plans and mitigation measures and monitoring to ensure that this singular species will not be adversely impacted."
The LTA is commissioning an additional study by primatologist Dr Andie Ang to identify potential crossing locations for the langur around the work site area.
Joseph Koh, who chairs the National Parks Board's nature reserves scientific advisory committee, said while he would have preferred to have the line go around the CCNR, the decision to run it under the CCNR was "not completely unexpected".
Many of the concerns nature groups had have been addressed over the last six years, but there was still the possibility of unanticipated impact to flora and fauna, said Mr Koh, who is also the chairman of WWF Singapore.
The protection of Singapore's biodiversity must be incorporated in future planning work, rather than be subjected to mitigation efforts, said Dr Lum.
"Nature and the environment are not 'nice to have' for Singapore, but are vital for both tangible and intangible reasons," he said, noting the country is a signatory to the UN Convention on biodiversity.
"ONLY THE BEGINNING": LAM PIN MIN
Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said authorities worked very closely with nature groups prior to making a decision on the route.
"I hope that this will not be the end of the journey working together, in fact it is only the beginning," he said.
He hoped authorities would continue to be able to draw on the expertise of nature groups during the advanced engineering studies for the CRL - scheduled to begin by the second half of 2020 - to "co-create" further mitigating measures.
Mr Khaw thanked the nature groups for their "advice, suggestions and understanding".
“We will continue to work with them as we move the project into the next phase of Advanced Engineering Study, design and construction," the minister said.
Residents in areas surrounding the CCNR were relieved that the construction of the CRL would not impact their homes.
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Chong Kee Hiong noted that many residents of the area had previously expressed concerns that their property might be acquired, or that construction of the line might impact the structure of their houses.
Lakeview Estate condominium resident Kelvin Tan said residents had experienced noise and inconvenience over the past five years as a result of construction of the Thomson-East Coast Line.
"While it's been a very long process, I think we're very grateful that (deciding on the CRL alignment) was a very well thought-out process where views from both sides - from the environmentalists as well as the residents - have been taken into consideration," said the 44-year-old civil servant.
Daniel Yeo, who has lived in Yew Lian Park for 19 years, said many residents in the area were retirees.
"My father-in-law has lived there for more than 50 years, from the very beginning," said the 46-year-old cardiologist.
"The last thing you want to do is uproot them and have them move somewhere else."
WARSAW: Four people were killed and another four were reported missing after a gas explosion destroyed a house in a ski resort in the south of Poland late Wednesday (Dec 4), local authorities said.
Around 100 firefighters were still scouring the debris of the house in Szczyrk on Thursday morning in search of possible survivors.
The local prefect, Jaroslaw Wieczorek, said that one of the bodies recovered was a child and the other three were adults.
Wieczorek said that eight people were believed to have been in the house when the explosion occurred.
The local gas distributor, PSG, said that the explosion had been preceded by a sudden drop in pressure in the gas pipeline, which could indicate that the pipeline had been accidentally punctured during nearby construction works.
LOS ANGELES: Two victims have died after a shooting at the historic military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Wednesday (Dec 4), military officials said.
A third victim is in stable condition after being hospitalised while the shooter, a US Navy sailor, also died from "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound", the officials said in a press briefing.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam said on Twitter that the three victims were all civilians working for the US Department of Defense.
"I join in solidarity with the people of Hawaii as we express our heartbreak over this tragedy and concern for those affected by the shooting," Governor David Ige said on Twitter. "Details are still emerging as security forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam investigate."
Ige said the White House had contacted him to offer assistance from federal agencies as needed.
"The president has been briefed on the shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and continues to monitor the situation," a White House spokesman said.
The base, which was formed by the merger of Pearl Harbor Naval Station and Hickam Air Force Base, was placed on lockdown for about two hours following the incident at about 2.30pm Hawaii Standard Time (8.30am Singapore time).
"Base security and Navy investigative services are currently investigating. The names of the victims will not be released until the next of kin have been notified," Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam said in a tweet.
One witness told local media he was sitting at his computer when he heard shots fired and rushed to the window, where he saw three victims on the ground.
The witness, who did not want to be identified, said he then saw the gunman, who was wearing a sailor's uniform, shoot himself in the head.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is a combined US Air Force and Navy Installation located 13km from Honolulu.
The incident comes three days before the 78th anniversary of the Dec 7, 1941, attack on the naval base that led the United States to enter World War Two by declaring war on Japan.
SINGAPORE: The organiser of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) has apologised following online complaints over traffic jams in the city area during the race on Saturday evening (Nov 30).
A post on the marathon's official Facebook page on Wednesday said: "We have read all your comments and feedback, and we apologise for the inconvenience caused."
Full traffic studies had been carried out in consultation with various partners, it added.
Reporters contacted the marathon's organiser Ironman Asia and national sports agency Sport Singapore for their comments on Monday but has yet to receive a reply.
The Facebook said the planning of an evening marathon "was a year in the making", which also involved an "extensive stakeholder outreach programme" that began in January.
It added that "extensive road advisories" were disseminated through media outlets alongside its digital channel.
Roads were also reopened progressively to minimise inconvenience caused to road users.
On Nov 27, the Singapore Police Force announced that several roads and lanes would be closed due to the marathon.
This year's race was held for the first time at night. The new evening format was part of the organiser's bid to further the appeal of the race and improve the marathon's chances of being inducted into the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a series of the largest and most renowned marathons.
"In the last 18 years, SCSM has grown significantly to what it is today," the post said.
"We hope to see Singapore not only embrace the sport of running, but also celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.
"As we strive to put on the best race in coming years, your feedback goes a long way in helping us take one step closer to our goal: Making SCSM a race not just for runners, but a race for Singapore."
SINGAPORE: A Trans-Cab taxi driver captured on video cursing at his passengers and kicking and punching another driver's car was charged on Thursday (Dec 5).
Feng Zhanning, 42, was involved in a dispute with his passengers at Far East Plaza taxi stand on Nov 24 at about 10pm.
A video of the incident shows him hurling vulgarities at a man and woman, one of whom was carrying a baby.
During the dispute, he is said to have swung a pair of pliers at a male passenger and pushed a female passenger, causing her to fall backwards and sustain abrasions on her palm.
The police said the five-month-old baby was unhurt.
In another video circulating online, Feng is seen punching and kicking another driver's car.
The incident took place on Nov 22 at about 3.20pm along Paterson Hill, the police said.
Investigations found that Feng had confronted a car driver after being honked at. During the confrontation, he kicked and used his fist and elbow to hit the victim's car, damaging it in the process.
The car driver was unhurt, the police added.
Feng was arrested on Wednesday at Woodlands Checkpoint.
He was charged with criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt in the Nov 24 case. If convicted, he faces fines and up to two years' jail on each charge.
He remains to be charged with mischief and intentional harassment in the road rage case.
Reporters has contacted Trans-Cab for comments.
PARIS: Global carbon emissions boosted by soaring natural gas use are set to hit record levels in 2019 despite a decline in coal consumption and a string of countries declaring a climate emergency, researchers said on Wednesday (Dec 4).
In its annual analysis of fossil fuel trends, the Global Carbon Project said CO2 emissions were on course to rise 0.6 per cent this year - slower than previous years but still a world away from what is needed to keep global warming in check.
In three peer-reviewed studies, authors attributed the rise to "robust growth" in natural gas and oil, which offset significant falls in coal use in the United States and Europe.
"We see clearly that global changes come from fluctuations in coal use," said Corrine Le Quere, from the University of East Anglia, an author on the Carbon Budget report.
"In contrast, the use of oil and particularly natural gas is going up unabated. Natural gas is now the biggest contributor to the growth in emissions."
Atmospheric CO2 levels, which have been climbing exponentially in recent decades, are expected to hit an average of 410 parts per million this year, Le Quere said.
That's the highest level in at least 800,000 years.
The report will make for further uncomfortable reading for delegates gathered at UN climate talks in Madrid, with the warnings from the world's top climate scientists still ringing in their ears.
Last week the UN said global emissions needed to fall 7.6 per cent each year, every year, to 2030 to stand any chance of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 Farenheit).
With just 1 degree Celsius of warming since the industrial era so far, 2019 saw a string of deadly superstorms, drought, wildfires and flooding, made more intense by climate change.
The UN said Wednesday that the 2010s was almost certain to be the hottest decade on record and as many as 22 million people could be displaced by extreme weather this year.
'URGENCY NOT SUNK IN'
The authors pointed out 2019's rise in emissions was slower than each of the two previous years.
Yet with energy demand showing no sign of peaking even with the rapid growth of low carbon technology such as wind and solar power, emissions in 2019 are still set to be 4 percent higher than in 2015, the year nations agreed to limit temperature rises in the Paris climate accord.
While emissions levels can vary annually depending on economic growth and even weather trends, the Carbon Budget report shows how far nations still need to travel to drag down carbon pollution.
"Current policies are clearly not enough to reverse trends in global emissions. The urgency of action has not sunk in yet," said Le Quere.
She highlighted anticipated emissions falls of 1.7 per cent in the US and Europe as the power sector continues its switch away from coal.
The most polluting fossil fuel saw its usage drop by as much as 10 per cent in the two regions this year, the report said.
But such savings were offset globally by the likes of India and China, the biggest overall emitter, and specifically by an increase in energy from natural gas.
"Compared to coal, natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel, but unabated natural gas use merely cooks the planet more slowly than coal," said Glen Peters, research director at the CICERO Center for International Climate Research.