Friday, June 24, 2011

PLANETARY TREMORS: 7.4 Quake in Alaska's Aleutian Islands!

A strong 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the northwestern US state of Alaska late Thursday. The US Geological Survey (USGS) later downgraded it to a 7.2 magnitude quake. The quake hit at  03:09:40 UTC and was located at 52.008°N, 171.859°W with a depth of 62.6 kilometres (km) or 38.9 miles. The epicentre was 162 km (101 miles) east (97°) from Atka; 228 km (142 miles) southwest (244°) from Nikolski; 328 km (204 miles) east (86°) from Adak; and 1681 km (1045 miles) southwest (243°) from Anchorage.

A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook Alaska's Aleutian Islands late on Thursday, triggering a tsunami warning that sent people heading for high ground before the alert was cancelled. Hundreds of people fled the coast on foot, drove or rode in the back of pickup trucks after the earthquake struck 130km northeast of the seafood port of Dutch Harbour, home to some 4,400 people. The temblor struck at 03:09 GMT, triggering a tsunami warning from the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre (WCATWC). Sirens rang out, officials ordered people to move to at least 15m above sea level, and fishing boats could be seen steaming out of the harbour as a precaution in case waves struck the coast line. "Those feeling the earth shake, seeing unusual wave action or the water level rising or receding may have only a few minutes before the tsunami arrival and should move immediately," warned the WCATWC. "Homes and small buildings are not designed to withstand tsunami impacts.

Do not stay in these structures," officials warned. But about an hour later it was all over. "We've confirmed that no wave has been generated", acting public safety director Matt Betzen said at 04:21 GMT. "We're giving the all-clear." The US Geological Survey (USGS) originally reported the quake as a huge 7.4-magnitude, but downgraded it in subsequent hours to 7.3 and eventually 7.2. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries along the remote island chain. Fire engines and police cars drove up and down the hillsides telling residents it was safe to return to their homes. USGS said the earthquake was at a depth of 62km, and struck more than 1 600km west of the major Alaskan city of Anchorage. A pair of moderate aftershocks shook the Aleutian Islands early on Friday.
- News 24.
WATCH: Television report about the earthquake.

THE GREAT DELUGE: Tropical Storm Meari Batters the Philippines!

Some 50,000 people were in evacuation centres in the Philippines on Friday after fleeing their homes following days of torrential rains caused by Tropical Storm Meari, officials said.

Rain from Tropical Storm Meari battered the Philippine capital and nearby provinces during the past two days, causing floods that prompted evacuations as dams overflowed. Wind damaged 15 houses in Quezon City yesterday, knocking down trees and electric posts and wrecking three cars, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its 6 a.m. report. One woman was injured as she fled her house, the report said. The home of San Miguel Corp. Chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. was one of those damaged, Chief Superintendent George Regis said in a mobile phone message today. A gale also swept through Iloilo province in the central Philippines yesterday, damaging 24 houses and destroying 25, National Disaster said. Fifteen people are missing, including 10 fishermen from eastern provinces, the disaster agency reported. Nonstop rain caused La Mesa Dam, in Quezon City, and Ipo Dam, in Bulacan province, to overflow. Of the 75,150 people affected by the evacuation, more than 11,000 were from Marikina City in the capital, an area that also suffered flooding during Storm Ketsana almost two years ago. Rain caused flooding and snarled traffic in the capital on June 23, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported this week.

The Philippines is regularly battered by tropical storms that form over the Pacific Ocean east of the island country. In September 2009, Ketsana flooded Manila and parts of Luzon, killing more than 400 people and affecting almost 5 million. “We are better prepared this time” than in 2009, Office of Civil Defense Administrator Benito Ramos said yesterday. Northern and central Luzon will continue to experience monsoon rain that may cause flooding and landslides even as Meari, with maximum winds of 105 kilometers (65 miles) per hour and gusts up to 135 kilometers per hour, departs toward the northwest, according to the 5 a.m. bulletin of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration. Some areas in Quezon City and Marikina City were still impassable to vehicles as of 6 a.m., police said in a report.
- Bloomberg.
WATCH: Thousands flee Philippines floods.

PLANETARY TREMORS: ALERT - Magma Rising in Taal Volcano!

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned against any activity near the Taal, Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes as rockfalls and ash explosions may occur due to bad weather.

In its 8:00 a.m. bulletin, Phivolcs said that while Taal volcano was still on alert level 2, magma could be seen rising towards the surface as shown by the continuing high emission rate of carbon dioxide being released in the main crater lake and sustained seismic activity. Phivolcs advised the public to stay away from the main crater, Daang Kastila Trail and Mt. Tabaro, as sudden hazardous steam driven explosions may occur and high concentrations of toxic gases may accumulate, which are lethal to humans and animals. Phivolcs reiterated that the entire volcano island remains a permanent danger zone. In the other hand, Mayon volcano and Bulusan volcano are under alert level 1.

But Philvocs said in the same bulletin that while no eruption was imminent in Mayon, the public should not enter the 6-kilometer radius permanent danger zone due to the continuing threat from sudden small explosions and rockfalls from the upper and middle slopes of the volcano. “Active stream/river channels and those perennially identified as lahar prone areas in the southern sector should also be avoided especially during bad weather conditions or when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall,” Phivolcs said. In Bulusan, the public is prohibited from entering the 4-kilometer radius permanent danger zone because the area was at risk to sudden steam and ash explosions. Phivolcs also reminded its residents in the northwest and southwest sectors to take precautions against the ashfall. It also called on civil aviation authorities to warn pilots against flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash and volcanic fragments ejected from sudden explosions may be hazardous to the aircraft.
- Inquirer News.

EARTH CHANGES: Homes Evacuated as Fire Rages in Oklahoma!

A wildfire forced the evacuation of 70 to 80 homes in central Oklahoma on Friday, emergency officials said. The homes are northeast of Oklahoma City, in southwest Lincoln County, an official with the Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency said.

The evacuations came as Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, acting at the request of Gov. Mary Fallin, declared a state of emergency for 33 Oklahoma counties due to drought and the associated wildfires. "These counties have struggled to see relief from our current drought, and with Oklahoma's high winds, conditions have unfortunately been ideal for devastating wildfires," said Lamb in a statement. "Declaring this emergency will provide aid to these struggling Oklahomans as they prepare to rebuild and restore what was lost." The counties are: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Love, Major, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward. More than 10 fires are burning across the state, Lamb said. A number of houses have burned, said Keli Cain, a public information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, in Oklahoma City. "Some of them destroyed." She put the total area burned at "well over 3,000 acres." Fires in Comanche County, southwest of Oklahoma City, and Dewey County, across Interstate 40 northwest of Oklahoma City, were among the biggest. "Both of those fires have had air support today," Cain said, referring to water drops from helicopters. There were a couple of reports of minor injuries to the firefighters, she added. - CNN.
Churning fire described as a "wall of flame'' threatened a remote Oklahoma resort town Friday, pushing through dry brush on 30 mph wind gusts after destroying at least 13 homes. Comanche County authorities ordered more than 1,500 people from their homes along the northern fringe of the Fort Sill U.S. Army post. Fire crews attacking the blaze on the ground and from the air had the 5,500-acre fire about 40 percent contained by Friday afternoon. High winds refueled the blaze, pushing it farther northeast across Oklahoma Highway 58 south of Lake Lawtonka, county spokesman Chris Killmer said. Additional homes were evacuated before crews contained the flare-up about an hour later, Killmer said. The fire spread a thick, smoky haze over the foothills near the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. "The humidity is really low, there's high winds and it's very rough terrain,'' said Medicine Park Fire Chief David McCoy. Weather forecasters imposed a red flag warning Friday for temperatures of up to 108 degrees, winds of 20-30 mph and humidity readings below 20 percent. "I've never seen it in my life as dry as this,'' said Doug Wright, chief of the Paradise Valley Volunteer Fire Department, which sent 18 firefighters to help battle the blaze. "We never fight major fires in June and July because it's usually green.'' Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb issued an executive order Friday declaring a state of emergency in 33 counties in western and southern Oklahoma, including Comanche County. That marks the first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary, and may be amended to include additional counties. - CBS News.

MONSOON: Multiple Landslides and Heavy Floods Kills 16 In India!

Multiple landslides across West Sikkim in India, last night triggered by torrential rain have killed 16 persons and cut off the inter-district road connectivity and power and water supply for more than 20 hours.

Sixteen persons are reported to have died in landslides caused by heavy rain in West Sikkim on Thursday night. One of the 16 was a three-month-old baby whose gender could not be established. The landslides, which occurred around tourism hot spots in Sikkim, have damaged roads and destroyed at least four houses. Among the victims are 11 members of a family. West Sikkim district collector Shanta Pradhan confirmed 16 persons went missing. She said there were no tourists in the areas where the landslides took place. The district had been witnessing non-stop rain for three days.

On Thursday night, sensing danger, some locals and a group of daily wage labourers who were staying as tenants at a place 10 km from district headquarters took shelter in a two-storeyed wooden house. But the house was washed away and 14 persons became untraceable (the other two of the 16 were from other places). Only Indra Maya Gurung (45), the landlady, survived, said Jigme Bhutia, district disaster management officer. Gurung, who suffered injuries, has been admitted to hospital. Talking to Hindustan Times, Bhutia said of the 16 persons feared dead, four were locals and the rest daily wage-earners from Darjeeling and Nepal.
- Hindustan Times.

GREAT DELUGE: Souris River Swells Past 130-Year Record Level!

Flood waters from the Souris River soared nearly four feet today swamping  an estimated 2,500 homes and overwhelming the city's levees. City officials said they expected more than 4,000 homes in Minot, North Dakota to be flooded by day's end.

More than a quarter of the city's 40,000 residents evacuated earlier this week, rushed to pack any belongings they hoped to save into cars, trucks and trailers. 'This has been a very trying time for our community,' Zimbelman said. 'It's emotionally draining for all of us.' As they had the past two days, emergency officials focused on protecting water and sewer systems to avoid the need for more evacuations.

'The river's coming up rapidly,' Mayor Curt Zimbelman said. 'It's dangerous and we need to stay away.' Fed by heavy rains upstream and dam releases that have accelerated in recent days, the Souris surged past a 130-year-old record today and kept going. The river was nearly five feet above major flood stage earlier and expected to crest over the weekend after reaching more than eight-and-a-half feet beyond major flood stage. 'This has been a very trying time for our community,' Zimbelman said. 'It's emotionally draining for all of us.'
Daily Mail.
WATCH: Water fills 2500 homes in Minot as river rises.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: 8 Killed After Mine Collapses In China!

Eight people were killed and seven injured after an iron ore mine collapsed in East China's Fujian province Friday afternoon, local authorities said Saturday.

The cave-in was triggered by a nearby landslide at around 1:30 pm Friday in Peifeng township, Yongding county. The injured people had been sent to the hospital, but two of them were discharged as of Saturday morning, according to a statement from the county government. The police were hunting down its three owners who had fled after the accident. The mine had been under illegal operation, the statement said. The police were identifying the killed people. A further investigation on the cause of the accident was under way, it added. - China Daily.