6 Dead in Worst Storm to Drench Eastern Spain in 140 Years
More than 3,000 people had to be rescued from the storm that drenched Murcia, Valencia and eastern Andalusia on Spain's Mediterranean coast last week. Some towns recorded their highest rainfall on record. While it is normal for the region to see autumn storms, last week's deluge was the worst to hit eastern Spain in 140 years, EL PAÍS reported.
Floods in southeast Spain 🇪🇸— Copernicus EMS (@CopernicusEMS) September 14, 2019
This #Sentinel2 🇪🇺🛰 image acquired yesterday 13 September shows flooded areas north and northwest of Cartagena and the runoff into the Mar Menor (in blue)
Thanks to @adelgado for the cue pic.twitter.com/X4kYKuLC7O
Because warmer air holds more moisture, the climate crisis increases the chance of extreme rainfall events. Heavy rains and snowfalls are already becoming more frequent, even in dry regions, a 2016 study published in Nature Climate Change found.
In the most recent Spanish storms, Ontinyent in Valencia recorded 250 millimeters (approximately 10 inches) of rainfall in 12 hours, 10 times the normal amount for this time of year, according to EL PAÍS.
"All my warmth and solidarity for the people affected by the heavy rains," Acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted Saturday, as The New York Times reported. "Together, we will deploy all our resources and aid to help the population and return things to normal."
Tristemente lamentamos una nueva víctima mortal en Orihuela. Todo mi cariño para sus familiares y mi solidaridad con todas las personas afectadas por las intensas lluvias.— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) September 14, 2019
Coordinados, volcaremos todos los recursos y ayudas para atender a la población y recuperar la normalidad. pic.twitter.com/p9gg710GEa
The storm killed two siblings on Thursday when their car was swept away by flood waters in Caudete, in Albacete, EL PAÍS reported further. On Friday, another man drowned in Almería when he entered a flooded underpass. Two other men were found dead Friday: one, aged 36, in Granada, and another, aged 58, near Orihuela in Alicante. A sixth man was found dead in Orihuela Saturday. He was 41 years old.
The town of Orihuela was especially hard hit. It was cut off for three days due to flooding on the roads.
More than 1,100 military personnel were deployed to rescue people from flooding in Murcia and Valencia, The Guardian reported. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said 3,500 people had to be rescued, according to The New York Times. Some people had to be rescued from rooftops by helicopter, and four people were saved from the tops of cars by boat and jet ski. The deluge closed the airports of Murcia and Almería, as well as train lines, roads and schools.
The region could be in for a lengthy recovery. The storm displaced thousands and destroyed at least 300,000 hectares (approximately 741,316 acres) of agricultural land, according to EL PAÍS.
It is too early to estimate the cost of the damages, but Ximo Puig, the head of the Valencia region, requested "something like a Marshall Plan" to help the region recover.
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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