At least 10 tonnes of dead fish have been pulled out of the River Oder which flows along part of Poland’s border with Germany – as officials warn people not to enter the water due to possible contamination.
Anglers and volunteers removed the dead fish from the 200km (124 mile) stretch of the river north of Olawa in southwest Poland, the head of the agency which manages the country’s national waters has said.
Przemyslaw Daca, head of State Water Holding, also called the situation a gigantic ecological catastrophe.
Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has vowed to punish those responsible after environmental authorities said they notified prosecutors about potential contamination of the country’s second longest river.
Ewa Drewniak, a biologist working with opposition political group Civic Coalition, has accused the government of not responding quickly enough. Advertisement “Dead fish have been flowing in the Oder for the past two weeks and people have not been informed about it, I’ve seen scores of people bathing in the river a week and a half ago, they were not aware of the danger, this is scandalous,” she said. Regional environmental protection authorities in the Polish city of Wroclaw said Oder water samples taken on 28 July showed an 80% probability that they contained mesitylene, a toxic substance, although this was not present in samples taken after 1 August.
Low river levels due to the drought in Europe might have aggravated possible contamination, Mr Daca said on Wednesday.
He added they suspected a strong oxidizing agent might have gotten into the water causing oxygen levels to spike, which can harm fish.
Mr Daca also said there was no reason for panic and the situation was improving.
Several German districts bordering Poland warned locals to avoid the river water and not to eat fish from the Oder as long as the cause of the fish deaths was unclear.
“The reports from the Oder are simply terrible,” Michael Kellner, a senior politician of Germany’s The Greens party, said on Twitter.
Nearly one third of households in the United Kingdom will face poverty this winter after paying energy bills that are set to soar again in January, campaigners say.
About 10.5 million households will be in fuel poverty for the first three months of next year, according to estimates from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition(EFPC)published on Tuesday — meaning that their income after paying for energy will fall below the poverty line.
The UK government defines poverty as household income of less than 60% of the UK median, which stood at £31,000 ($37,500) in 2021, according to official statistics.
The predictions are based on new estimates from research firm Cornwall Insight, also published Tuesday, which show that the average household energy bill is expected to hit £3,582 ($4,335) a year from October, and £4,266 ($5,163) from January — equating to about £355 ($430) a month.
January’s forecast represents a 116% increase in energy bills from current levels. As fuel prices surge, estimates are having trouble keeping pace. Just last week, Cornwall Insight predicted January’s prices would rise by 83% from current levels.
The research firm said it had revised its figures because of a jump in wholesale prices and a change in the way the UK regulator calculates its price cap. But there could be relief on the horizon: Cornwall Insight expects bills to start falling in the second half of 2023.
Fuel bills started rising last year as a global natural gas supply crunch pushed wholesale prices up to record levels. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has only exacerbated the situation.
In May, the government announced a £15 billion ($18 billion) package of support — including a £400 ($484) payment to 29 million households from October — to ease the burden of energy bills.
But Simon Francis, coordinator for the EFPC, said the latest price estimates meant the current level of government support amounted to a “drop in the ocean.”
Craig Lowrey, a principal consultant at Cornwall Insight, said in a Tuesday press release that if “£400 was not enough to make a dent in the impact of [the company’s] previous forecast, it most certainly is not enough now.”
Liz Truss, the UK’s foreign minister and current frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister next month, has proposed cutting taxes to help people struggling with their bills, rather than direct help. Her rival, former finance minister Rishi Sunak, has said more support will be needed.
Meanwhile, the CBI — the country’s top business organization — has urged Johnson to bring the leadership candidates together to agree on a way to support households and businesses with their energy bills so that measures can be announced as soon as the October price cap is set on August 26. The new prime minister is not expected to be elected until September 5.
The price of olive oil is set to rise as heatwaves hit production in Spain, a leading exporter has warned.
Acesur, which supplies the UK’s biggest supermarkets, told the BBC this would feed through into prices in shops in the next three to four months when companies renew their contracts.
The company’s export manager, Miguel Colmenero, said customers could see prices rise by 20-25%.
Spain produces nearly half of the world’s olive oil.
But the country, along with other parts of Western Europe which produce olive oil, including Italy and Portugal, has been experiencing extreme temperatures and a lack of rain in recent weeks.
Acesur is involved in the production of more than 200,000 tonnes of olive oil a year, out of the roughly 1.4 million tonnes produced in Spain annually, and sells its products in more than 100 countries.
It sells around 20,000 tonnes a year in the UK and packs own-label brands for Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda. The supermarkets also stock its La Espanola brand, which is the third biggest in the UK.
Most of the olives in its products are grown in Andalucia, southern Spain, which has had very little rainfall in recent weeks.
Mr Colmenero said the impact of the heatwave on production was “drastic”.
Last year, Spain produced around 1.4 million tonnes of olive oil but he said officials were now forecasting as little as one million tonnes for this season.
He added that the dry weather could also impact next season’s crop, if olive trees could not grow new branches due to lack of water.
This is having an impact on global prices. In July the Mintec benchmark price for extra virgin olive oil rose to its highest level so far this year, up by 7.3% on the previous month and 14.2% on the previous year, according to the market research group.
Mr Colmenero said this would eventually feed through into prices for customers, although there would be a three to four month lag because many companies would already have signed 12-month contracts with retailers.
However, he added companies would eventually have to raise their prices when they renewed contracts and customers could see increases of 20-25%.
The BBC contacted the UK’s other biggest olive oil brands, including Filippo Berio and Napolina, but did not get a response.
The average price of own-label olive oil in the four biggest UK supermarket chains was up 50.2% on last year at the beginning of August, according to retail research firm Assosia. From June to July, average prices increased 28.5%.
If the dry weather continues, Roxanne Nikoro, a market analyst for Mintec, said prices could rise further.
However, she added that if the grain corridor agreed from Ukraine led to more supplies of sunflower oil coming out of the country, this “could bring some relief”.
Mr Colmenero said disruption to the supply of sunflower oil from Ukraine was also contributing to “dramatic” price increases, as people turned to olive oil as an alternative, increasing demand.
Ukraine was previously the world’s top exporter of sunflower oil.
Other parts of Western Europe which produce olive oil have also experienced record high temperatures and Mr Colmenero said this would reduce production in other countries too.
Logistical delays and a failure of the identification kit in some parts of the country marred a largely peaceful election day in Kenya.
Polls are now officially closed but voting has been extended in places which opened late.
This vote follows an intense campaign dominated by debates about living costs, unemployment and corruption.
The frontrunners for president are ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga and current Deputy President William Ruto.
Kenyans were also electing a new parliament and local administrations.
The electoral commission is yet to announce the total turnout, but by 16:00 (13:00 GMT) – an hour before pols closed – just over 56% of the 22 million registered voters had cast their vote.
A top election official in Kenya’s central region of Nyeri told journalists that turnout has been low in that part of the country compared to 2017.
The counting of votes, which takes place at the polling stations, was expected to start soon after they closed with the collation of the presidential votes a priority.
Earlier, Mr Odinga was mobbed by supporters when he went to vote in Kibra – one of his strongholds in the capital, Nairobi.
He did not speak to the press, but his wife, Ida Odinga, said he was “upbeat about the election”.
When Mr Ruto voted in the town of Eldoret in the Rift Valley he pledged to accept the election result.
“I think for the first time in the history of multi-party democracy in Kenya, all the candidates have undertaken that they will accept the outcome of the results,” he told the BBC.
A dispute over election results in 2007 led to weeks of violence leading to the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and forced about 600,000 people to flee from their homes
On Tuesday, there was some frustration among the early morning voters at a polling station in a primary school in the Westlands area of Nairobi.
They were blocked from entering the compound of the school for 90 minutes.
The reason for the delay was not clear and some people started chanting: “We want to vote!”
“I was here very early. It’s been disappointing that we got here early and had to wait for a long time,” voter Alex Kipchoge told the BBC.
When voting did get under way, however, the process went well.
“I was quite excited. I’ve been waiting for this for quite a long time and I’m happy that I’ve actually had the chance to vote,” first-time voter Abigail Awili said.
There were also delays in the coastal area of Mombasa and some parts of the north-east of the country. And in parts of Kakamega county, in the west, some electronic fingerprint scanning kits failed to work.
But the electoral commission said that nationwide only 200 broke down out of a total of more than 46,000.
The results of the last presidential election in 2017 were annulled after the Supreme Court ruled that the electoral commission had not followed the law when it came to the electronic transmission of the vote tallies from the polling stations.
Judges ruled that “illegalities and irregularities” had taken place.
A re-run was won by Mr Kenyatta, but boycotted by Mr Odinga – the main opposition candidate at the time.
The chairman of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, who was also in charge of the 2017 vote, has frequently tried to reassure Kenyans that his team will be up to the task this time.
This election looks like it will be a tight race between frontrunners Mr Odinga, 77, and Mr Ruto, 55.
Mr Odinga – a long-serving opposition leader, nicknamed Baba (“father”) by his supporters, is running for president for a fifth time. Mr Ruto, who has tried to emphasise his connection with ordinary Kenyans by calling himself a “hustler”, is taking his first stab at the presidency.
Two other candidates – David Mwaure and George Wajackoya – are also in the race.
To win the presidential race in the first round, a candidate needs:
more than half of all the votes cast across the country
at least 25% of the votes cast in a minimum of 24 counties.
After counting the votes, officials will then take a photo of the final tally and send the image to both the constituency and national tallying centres.
To ensure transparency the media, political parties and civil society groups have been urged to run their own tallies using final results declared at the more than 40,000 polling stations.
But only the electoral commission can declare the winner of the presidential election after verifying the physical and digital forms sent to the national tallying centre.