Dorset Holidaymakers Warned After Landslide Death

Holidaymakers visiting the UK’s Dorset coast have been warned to be extra vigilant after a 22-year old woman died yesterday when she was caught in a landslide beneath the county’s famous coastal cliffs.

The landslide, on a stretch of cliffs near Burton Bradstock, claimed the life of Charlotte Blackman, a Derbyshire resident who was out walking with her boyfriend and her father. The two men were also trapped in the 35-foot deep pile of rubble, which gave way just after 12.30pm yesterday.

The accident has resulted in warnings being issued to other holidaymakers in the area to take care when in the vicinity of the coastal cliffs, as it is believed that more landslides are possible due to the terrain having been made unstable by the current hot, dry weather, following on the heels of a prolonged period of rain.

A statement on a visitor information website for the area, www.jurassiccoast.com, reads, ‘There is a heightened risk of rock falls anywhere and at any time along the coast while landslides have delivered thick mudflows and quicksands to the beaches in many places. One of the hidden hazards is that the sea can wash sand and shingle over the mud and quicksand giving the appearance of a solid beach, which is why we advise people to stay well clear of these hazards’.

Dorset Council said that, ‘due to concerns about continuing land stability in the area following the exceptional wet weather,’ the western end of the Esplanade at West Bay, near Burton Bradstock, was closed at the weekend.

The area is a World Heritage Site, dubbed the Jurassic Coast due to its cliffs dating back 250 million years, and the frequency with which prehistoric fossils are found there.

 

Hawaii rules physicians can provide aid in dying

Compassion&Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life, and the Hawaii Death With Dignity Society (HDWDS), a local organization with similar goals, today announced the findings of a panel discussion on aid in dying. Experts on Hawaii law, medicine, elder care, legislative, and end-of-life issues concluded Hawaii physicians may already provide aid in dying subject to professional best-practice standards.

“Hawaii law, through a number of statutory enactments, and a provision in a 1909 law unique to Hawaii, already empowers terminally-ill patients with significant freedom to determine their course of medical care at the end of life and affords protection to physicians who provide care,” said panelist and Compassion&Choices Director of Legal Affairs Kathryn Tucker.

“Most medical care is governed by professional scope of practice standards,” said panelist Robert “Nate” Nathanson, MD, a founder of Hospice Hawaii. “These standards accept other practices that may advance the time of death, such as withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking, and palliative sedation.”

“Even with excellent pain and symptom management, some patients trapped in lingering decline ask their physician to prescribe medication the patient may ingest to bring about a peaceful death,” said panelist Deborah Zysman, MPH, president of the Hawaii Public Health Association, “This practice, known as aid in dying, is increasingly accepted not only by the American Public Health Association, but also the American Medical Women’s Association, the American Medical Student Association, and the American College of Legal Medicine.”

Representative Blake Oshiro, Hawaii House Majority Leader, chaired the panel, which also included former State Representative Ernest “Juggie” Heen; Dante Carpenter, Chair, Democratic Party of Hawaii; former State Representative Eve Anderson; Mitch Burns, an attorney of elder law; Hawaii community volunteer Laura Thompson; Pam Lichty, MPH, member of the board of the ACLU of Hawaii; Scott Foster, co-founder of HDWDS; and Robert Orfali, author of Death with Dignity.

Orfali wrote his book to help give others the choice his wife, Jeri, wished she’d had. In her 50s, she faced ovarian cancer. “When she became terminally ill, Jeri wanted some form of insurance at the end,” Orfali said, “She did not want to die in pain. She believed in aid in dying and wanted to have medication just in case.”

“The people of Hawaii strongly support the availability of aid in dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults,” said Representative Oshiro, “And it is good public policy. The experience in Oregon demonstrates that when aid in dying is available, hospice utilization increases dramatically, physicians seek more continuing medical education in treatment of pain and other distressing symptoms, and are more open to discussing end-of-life options with their patients.”

The lawyers and legislators concurred that nothing in Hawaii law currently prohibits aid in dying. Patients and their doctors may make decisions governed by best medical practice, allowing them the opportunity to explore a wider variety of patient-directed, end-of-life choices. Tucker, Compassion&Choices’ director of legal affairs, said, “We expect Hawaii residents will soon have the same broad range of end-of-life choices enjoyed by the people in Montana, Oregon, and Washington.”

400,000 children risk death through starvation in Somalia

Up to 400,000 children are at risk of death through starvation if urgent action is not taken now, Andrew Mitchell said today on a visit to Mogadishu. The International Development Secretary announced Britain will supply vital aid, including extra food and medical supplies, to more than 800,000 women and children in Somalia, as figures show that half of those who have died during the famine in Somalia are children.

Mr Mitchell – the first British Minister to visit Mogadishu in over 18 years – warned that without an urgent response, the crisis could become as bad as the famine in 1991-2. This saw over 200,000 people lose their lives. Aid workers are now seeing some of the same severe malnutrition rates in certain areas, and over 50% of the population is affected.

Lack of health care, inadequate immunisation, poor access to clean water and sanitation are all contributing to a rise in disease outbreaks, including cholera and measles. Urgent action in all these sectors, not just food assistance, is vital to prevent more unnecessary deaths.

The UK’s new package of support to the UN organisation for children, UNICEF, will allow them to double the number of children they are reaching in their supplementary feeding programme. The £25m children’s package will provide:

  • up to 192,000 people with two months of supplementary rations
  • supplies to vaccinate at least 800,000 children against measles, plus 300,000 with polio vaccines, vitamin A and deworming
  • support to malaria preparedness, including provision of over 100,000 treated bednets, 50,000 malaria testing kits, and treatment capacity for 4,000 cases of malaria

Speaking in Mogadishu, Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, said:

“I came to Mogadishu today to see first-hand how Britain can best help people that have been hit by this devastating famine. Evidence of malnutrition is not just in the camps and feeding centres but on every street corner.

“The stark fact is that in southern Somalia the situation is deteriorating by the day. We could face deaths on a similar scale to those seen in 1991-2 if we do not act urgently now. This is a race against time.

“That is why we are providing this crucial package of support aimed at children, which comes on top of earlier UK support to the region – and the generous help given by the British public through the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal.

“But we must also see better security and more access for humanitarian workers. I have discussed these issues with the Prime Minister today. By responding quickly, we can save many more lives and avert a human catastrophe.

“Other countries must also maintain and increase their support at this crucial stage. Or we risk seeing a whole generation of people decimated by starvation and disease – and further instability across the region.”

During Mr Mitchell’s historic visit to Mogadishu he visited an IDP camp and feeding centre, discussed progress of aid delivery with British-backed UN and NGO partners, met with Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed as well as the Deputy Mayor Iman Nur Icar, the Ministers for Women and Family Affairs, Planning and International Co-operation, and Minister for Interior and State Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Finance and Information.

The UK will also provide £4m to FAO to help protect the remaining livestock by supporting treatment and vaccination of 2.1 million animals weakened by the drought, benefitting 70,000 livestock owners and distribute seeds and fertilisers to 12,500 households.

Britain’s response to the drought crisis in Somalia will now provide:

  • treatment for over 60,000 acutely malnourished children;
  • cash and/or vouchers to over 160,000 people for at least three months to purchase food;
  • 2 months of blanket supplementary rations to 192,000 people to prevent malnutrition;
  • food rations for over 19,000 people for up to three months;
  • access to safe water for over 300,000 people;
  • livestock support or agricultural supplies (including seeds) to 191,600 people;
  • access to healthcare to 140,000 people;
  • measles vaccinations for 800,000 children;
  • 100,000 treated bednets to prevent malaria;
  • shelter for over 46,000 people.