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by Euro Reporter
2009-08-18 07:25:59
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Forest fire damage

On the day that estimates showed that 200,000 hectares of land in the EU have already been burnt in 2009, compared to a total of 180,000 in 2008, the Portuguese Forestry Authority (AFN) said three times more fire damage has been caused this year in relation to 2008.

According to provisional information posted by the AFN on their website this week, 21,625 hectares of forest was destroyed by fires between January 1st and July 31st this year. The total for the first seven months in 2008 was put at 17,244, with this year’s figure also higher than the damage reported in 2007 and 2006. However, progress was still reported, as the annual average total area affected by forest fires for the period between 1999 and 2008 was almost 50,000 hectares, more than double the destruction caused this year in blazes across the country.

The worst affected areas this year were all located in northern Portugal. Meanwhile, fires in the European Union this year were also up substantially on last year’s number. The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which continuously monitors the forest fire risk, and which at present is still high, and has just released the ‘Forest Fires in Europe 2008’ report providing a comprehensive overview of forest fire danger conditions and the impact of forest fires in Europe for 2008. EFFIS uses satellite images to produce daily updated maps of areas burnt by forest fires of at least 40 hectares in size. The area of mapped fires corresponds on average to 75 percent of the total scorched area which includes fires smaller than 40 hectares.


Slamming ‘Swine Flu’ hotline

A priest in charge of a village hall crèche that was closed due to an outbreak of the A H1N1 flu virus has spoken out against the 24-hour hotline that the Ministry of Health recommends people call if they suspect they may be infected with ‘Swine flu’ saying the crèche’s closure “could have been avoided if the hotline worked properly”. Father Domingos Fernandes, who oversees Mexilhoeira da Carregação’s parish hall, within which the children’s crèche and a kindergarten is run, guaranteed that some children’s parents tried to call the ‘Linha Saúde 24’ hotline as soon as they started to show symptoms last week but their calls were not answered.

The crèche was closed when seven cases of ‘Swine Flu’ were detected. Speaking to news agency Lusa, Father Domingos said “Many parents had already tried to call Linha Saúde 24 before Friday [when the first case in the crèche was confirmed] but they were not answered and they have expressed anger over that. If they had been answered I am sure this situation -the crèche’s closure - could have been avoided”. He added that various parents had taken their children to hospital to be checked as their calls to Linha Saúde 24 went unanswered, but were turned away by doctors.

After one mother insisted profusely with doctors, her child was sent to Faro last Friday for further examination and the virus was confirmed. “From the moment the first case was detected the local health delegate summoned all parents and staff for a meeting and medicine was given to the parents of children who did not appear to be infected as a preventative measure”, the Father added.


World’s largest oil painting in Lisbon’s Oceanarium

Portugal is going to attempt to achieve yet another Guinness World Record and, hopefully, a place in the prestigious book, by submitting the world’s largest canvas painting. Measuring five kilometres in length the mammoth canvas was painted using the efforts of more than 10,000 people, 20,000 paint brushes and 4,000 litres of paint. It extends between Lisbon’s Oceanarium, in the Expo area, and the Vasco da Gama tower.

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ap2009-08-18 12:37:07
There have been many unconfirmed cases of swine flu or false alarms in portugal, but anyway I don't know if that was as avoidable as the priest wants to believe, since Mexilhoeira da Carregação is a very touristic area with people from different places in the world travelling there (even more in summertime), and all the flu prevention/information campaigns are out on the streets and media in a very strong way (I would say even more strongly than in London), so I guess the parents weren't as careful as they should either. But yes, doctors seem to have taken it too softly.

ap2009-08-19 15:58:12
...and the Guinness record was achieved - people were painting until the 15th of August but on the 10th more than 15.000 people had participated. Part of the Festival of the Oceans, one of the festivals which happens in Lisbon during Summer every year.

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