Blog Posts, World News

California wildfires: Number of missing leaps to 631

The number of people missing in northern California's devastating wildfire has leapt to more than 600, and seven more bodies have been found, according to local authorities.

The missing persons' list has doubled since earlier on Thursday.

The Camp Fire, the state's deadliest and most destructive blaze, has killed at least 63 people. Nearly 12,000 buildings have been destroyed.

Three more people have also died in the Woolsey Fire, further south.

Wildfire survivors: 'We swam to safety' Before and after snapshots President Donald Trump will travel to California on Saturday to survey the damage and meet those affected.

About 9,400 firefighters are currently battling wildfires across the state.

The Camp Fire - which broke out eight days ago - swept through a swathe of the north at high speed, leaving residents little time to escape.

Why such a big jump in the missing? The official list more than doubled from 300 to 631 on Thursday.

At a news briefing, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said this was because investigators had thoroughly cross-checked their information, including emergency calls made since the Camp Fire started on 8 November.

"I want you to understand that the chaos we were dealing with was extraordinary," Mr Honea said.

He stressed that the number of the missing would most likely fluctuate.

"If you look at that list and see your name, or the name of a friend or loved one, please call to let us know," Mr Honea appealed to the public.

What's the latest on the firefighting operation? The California Fire Department says it has now contained about 40% of the Camp Fire blaze.

"We continue to engage in the fire fight. We continue to keep our eye on the ball," chief fire department official Ken Pimlott said.

Officials say they do not expect to fully contain the blaze - which has razed 145,000 acres (56,600 ha) - until the end of the month.

They are also battling several other fires. The Woolsey Fire in Ventura County near Los Angeles covers nearly 100,000 acres and is 62% contained.

The smaller Hill Fire, also in Ventura County, covers 4,530 acres and is 99% contained. The Morgan Fire in Contra Costa County, near San Francisco, covers 20 acres and is 60% contained.

Before and after snapshots Is it advisable to escape a wildfire by car? Red carpets cancelled after wildfires The worst-hit area is the town of Paradise, with officials saying it will need a "total rebuild" job that will take several years.

Blog Posts, Business

Rolls-Royce boss says May’s Brexit deal is better than no deal

Warren East said time was running out and that any deal was better than leaving the EU without an agreement.

Rolls-Royce employs 22,300 people in the UK making aerospace, marine and submarine engines.

Mr East joined other business leaders in backing the draft plan put forward by Theresa May on Wednesday.

"The time since the referendum seems to have gone remarkably quickly and we're essentially [still] having a discussion we could have had the morning after the referendum," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We are slightly running out of time and I would, as a business leader, like to see politicians on both sides of the fence get on and negotiate a practical deal that works for business."

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Like many other engineering firms, Rolls-Royce has supply chains that rely on smooth "just-in-time" delivery of thousands of parts from across the Channel.

Earlier this year Mr East called for "as little change as possible" from Brexit to minimise the impact on business. He said the firm would stockpile parts to protect against the risk of a no-deal Brexit that might interrupt the movement of supplies across borders.

He said Rolls-Royce would continue to pursue those contingency plans to ensure it could keep operating after 29 March.

Other business leaders have stepped forward to back Mrs May's draft Brexit plan following a conference call between executives and the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, on Wednesday aimed at rallying support within the business community.

But the pound came under pressure on Thursday as investors worried that Mrs May would not get the backing of parliament and that the stability of her government was at stake after a string of ministerial resignations.

In Friday trading in Asia the pound was slightly higher against the dollar at about $1.28.

Uncertainty around whether the draft deal will pass through parliament, whether the UK will fail to reach a deal at all, or whether further political upheaval will result in a general election, has left executives with no choice but to prepare for a range of scenarios.

BMW welcomed the draft document as a "positive step in the right direction" but also confirmed the carmaker would continue to prepare for "the worst-case scenario, which is what a no-deal Brexit would represent".

Mrs May's proposed deal would mean the UK would maintain roughly the same trading relationship with the EU until at least the end of 2020, while a more permanent arrangement is negotiated. That prospect is attractive to businesses eager to maintain trade without increased friction from border checks or tariffs.

"Most business people ultimately are pragmatists and this is about playing the cards we have been dealt rather than wishing for a better hand," Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems, told the BBC.