Saturday, June 25, 2011

EARTH CHANGES: Massive Saharan Dust drifts west to Atlantic Ocean!

A massive Saharan dust plume has drifted west over the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Verde Islands, located 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa.

GOES, a US geostationary weather satellite, captured the below image of the dust Friday.  The image presents the fine sand particles as a hazy yellow colour (enhanced) that appears below the white clouds. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): “Dust storms such as this one are quite frequent and play a roll in depressing the formation of tropical waves in the Intertropical Convergence Zone. NOAA’s Atlantic hurricane season outlook last month called for “normal” levels of dust to blow off of the African coast.”

Elsewhere in Africa Friday dust drifted from the northern coast of Somalia over the Gulf of Aden and toward Yemen. This Modis image from midday Friday also shows the continuing eruption of the Nabro volcano in Eritrea. The stratovolcano erupted for the first time in its history on Sunday 12 June 2011.  Ash and SO2 emissions from the volcano can be seen drifting over the border into northern Ethiopia.
- Irish Weather Online.

EARTH CHANGES: Severe Drought Hits Eastern Africa!

Northern Kenya is facing a severe drought for the second year running, leaving thousands in danger and doctors fearing many deaths due to malnutrition. The Red Cross says that several people have already died of starvation this year. The last 12 months have been the driest in the Horn of Africa for more than 15 years.

At least 10 people have been killed after clashes broke out in northern Kenya over control of grazing land and water sources, as the worst drought in 15 years hits eastern Africa. Police and local leaders said that the fighting occured on Saturday on the border between Isiolo and Samburu districts, which has seen similar clashes in the past few years. Marcus Ochola, the deputy police commissioner for Eastern Province, told Reuters that six "raiders" and four local herders had been killed, and that many more were wounded. They said that the death toll from the clashes could rise. Abdullah Golicha, a civic leader, confirmed that 10 people had been killed, but said that the split was five "raiders" and five herders. The clashes were reportedly sparked by raiders from the Samburu community attacking Somali and Borana herdsmen. In May, about 20 people were killed after fighting between Ethiopians and northern Kenyan tribesmen, clashes which prompted the two countries to tighten security along remote frontiers.

The intense drought in the northeast of Kenya has already claimed several lives, the International Committee of the Red Cross says, and doctors say they fear that the number of people who die due to starvation could yet rise. The drought has also forced Tanzania's state-run power company to announce daily 12-hour electricity outages, as low water levels at hydropower dams and a shortage of fuel for thermal power generation have made it impossible for it to meet demand. "The Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) regrets to inform its customers ... that it has been forced to extend power rationing to all regions connected to the national grid, including Zanzibar," the company said in a statement seen by the Reuters news agency on Saturday. TANESCO said that water levels at the country's main hydroelectric dams were almost below the minimum level required for generation. "By June 22, the water level at Mtera dam was only 690.88 metres above sea level ... the minimum level at the dam, which will not allow power generation, is 690 metres above sea level," said the statement. Tanzania depends heavily on hydropower for energy and experiences frequent power shortages during dry seasons. The country is also facing a shortage of natural gas, exacerbating the shortage. It currently faces a shortfall of about 100 megawatts, generating 800MW against a demand of 900MW. It has floated tenders inviting independent power producers to set up emergency plants that would generate an additional 260MW this year
. - Al Jazeera.
WATCH: Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi reports from Wajir, in Kenya's northeast.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Severe, Extreme & Bad Weather Hits Vietnam!

Officials and state media say flash floods and whirlwinds have killed seven people, left three others missing and injured 60 in northern Vietnam.

Disaster official Tran Van Nham of Yen Bai province said Friday that authorities have recovered the body of a 20-year-old man and are searching for three people who were swept away by flash flooding while walking across a stream Thursday. In the northern port city of Hai Phong, a woman was killed Thursday by a falling tree, another person died when a house collapsed and four others were killed when they were struck by lightning, according to a statement from the Hai Phong Department for Flood and Storm Control. It said the whirlwinds injured 60 people, and high winds destroyed or damaged more than 900 homes. - Forbes.

KILLER GERM: E. COLI Superbug - Outbreak of New Infection Cases?!

The E.coli bacteria is becoming a dangerous global menace, plaguing food supplies in numerous places, killing more than 30 persons in Europe, and sickening thousands worldwide. With scientists and bacteria experts still trying to pinpoint its source, new cases are popping up each day.

Seventeen people have been hospitalized after two further outbreaks of food poisoning in France. Health authorities are investigating what appears to be an E.Coli infection in Bègles-en-Gironde, near Bordeaux. Seven adults are in hospital and three are said to be in a serious condition with kidney problems.
The Agence Régionale de Santé said: "We are trying to find out where the patients have eaten and where they have shopped, but it is too early to reach any conclusions." However it has ruled out any link with the hamburger E.Coli scare that caused eight children to be hospitalised in Lille last week, one of whom is still in a coma. A separate case of poisoning has been reported in the Nord, affecting 50 children who were served hamburgers at a school canteen. Ten children have been admitted to hospital as a precaution. Authorities say their lives are not in danger and the symptoms are not the same as those seen in Lille last week. Meanwhile, further tests on a batch of meat that was withdrawn from supermarkets yesterday over E.Coli concerns have come back negative. Producer Maison Spanghero said the recall had been a false alarm. Some 12 tonnes of hamburgers and meatballs were pulled from supermarket shelves, mostly in the south of France. - Connexion France.
Denmark registered a new case of E. coli infection Friday, but health experts say they do not fear a renewed epidemic.
A Danish woman is the latest victim, bringing the total number of cases in Denmark to 11 women and 12 men, Denmark's National Serum Institute (NSI), said in a statement Friday. Nine of them have a dangerous kidney disease, haemolytic uraemic syndrome, that is associated with the infection. Dr Kaare Moelbak, an expert in epidemiology at NSI, previously told Danish media isolated infected cases could continue to crop up but there was no reason to fear a new E. coli epidemic. The deadly outbreak of E. coli infections began in northern Germany in May. It spread to 16 countries, infecting more than 3,800 people and costing 44 lives, all but one in Germany, according to World Health Organization data released Thursday. The number of reported cases had been decreasing steadily since May 22, when the outbreak peaked, the WHO said. The NSI said the latest Danish victim had travelled to Germany in early May, and most likely contracted the infection there. All but one of the Danish cases were infected in Germany. Earlier in June, German authorities said bean sprouts from a particular farm in northern Germany were the source of contamination which led to the outbreak. The infection, which is food-borne, can be caused by eating raw or uncooked foods such as vegetables contaminated with the E. coli bacteria. Spanish and Danish-grown cucumbers, as well as German cucumber, lettuce and tomato were initially suspected of being contaminated, leading to large losses for vegetable producers in these countries but they were eventually cleared. Children are normally most vulnerable to E. coli infection, whose symptoms include mild fever, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. But this outbreak has disproportionately affected those above the age of 20 years, and women in particular. - Xinhuanet.
The Department of Environmental Quality was called after two water quality tests showed traces of E.coli bacteria in Broken Arrow's water supply.
City officials tell FOX23 after the initial tests an employee went home sick. An additional two tests were taken and showed no signs of the bacteria.  The City released this statement, "In accordance with its regulations, ODEQ is requiring the City to inform all of water customers of the failed tests and perform additional tests in the next few days.  The notification will go out today via Reverse 911 phone calls and will be mailed out to all water customers next week." As of right now, the water is safe to drink, cook with, and bathe in. - Fox 23.
More details emerged on Friday of the Arizona resident whose death earlier this month could be linked to the recent fatal E.coli outbreak in Europe.
The Arizona Department of Health Services identified the patient as a man, aged over 65 years, from northern Arizona, who had recently traveled to Germany. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that they were investigating whether the death of an Arizona resident was linked to an outbreak of the deadly bacteria that has killed around 40 people in Europe, most of them in Germany. There have been five confirmed cases in the United States of patients who were sickened by the same strain of the bacteria that has swept Europe, the CDC said, although it has yet to confirm if the man's death is linked to the outbreak. ADHS spokeswoman Laura Oxley said on Friday the man died from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) -- a type of kidney failure that the CDC said has afflicted at least 823 people in Europe, and killed 29. "The hospital notified us two days before he died because he had hemolytic uremic syndrome and had a travel history to Germany." - Reuters.
Six children ages 1 to 7 have been hospitalized for severe gastrointestinal illnesses after swimming this month in an Alabama indoor water park, a state health official said Friday.
The children got sick after visiting the Opelika SportsPlex and Aquatic Center between June 12-18, said Dr. Mary McIntyre, medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Disease at the Alabama Department of Public Health. The indoor splash park was closed Friday but the park's other facilities remained open, a park official said. Environmental officials will test chemical levels before the splash park will re-open, according to McIntyre. "We are continuing to work with the medical community to identify the extent of the problem," she said. Five of the children have been transferred from East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika to the Children's Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham, where they were being treated with antibiotics, the official said. - WDSU.