Monday, September 19, 2011

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake Hits Guatemala!

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A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck Guatemala at a depth of 39.4 km (24.5 miles). The quake hit at 18:34:00 UTC, Monday 19th September 2011 and was located at 14.332°N, 90.142°W. The epicentre was 19 km (12 miles) northeast of Cuilapa, Santa Rosa, Guatemala; 53 km (32 miles) southeast of Guatemala, Guatemala; 69 km (42 miles) east of Escuintla, Guatemala; 74 km (45 miles) northwest of Santa Ana, El Salvador; and 1114 km (692 miles) southeast of Mexico, D.F., Mexico.

No tsunami warning was issued and there are no reports of any damage at this time.
Three people have been killed following a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Guatemala on Monday, according to local firefighters. Ana Staackman, who lives in Guatemala City, Guatemala, said she felt a strong shaking in her office building during the quake. Staackman said she is used to the earthquakes since they happen every other week but this one lasted longer and felt stronger than usual. A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Guatemala on Monday, about 53 kilometers (32 miles) southeast of Guatemala City, the U.S. Geological Survey said. "We felt some strong termors. We heard that the first tremor registered about 4.8 and the second, 5.8," Evelyn Ruano, a spokeswoman with the President's office, told CNN. "There are people buried in rubble. Firefighters are on the scene in the department of Santa Rosa. We have one confirmed dead." The earthquake, which the USGS reported to be some 25 miles deep, was felt in the capital. - CNN.
CSEM and USGS lists.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (CSEM) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are showing additional seismic activity in the same region, with USGS featuring 2 other 4.8 magnitude earthquakes. Interestingly, CSEM is also showing a 6.2 magnitude tremor for El Salvador, that is not shown on the USGS list.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Massive 6.9 India Earthquake Kills 50 People! UPDATE: Death toll Rises to 74 as Rain & Landslides Hamper Rescue!

At least 50 people in India and Nepal died when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the northern Indian state of Sikkim near the border between the two nations Sunday night.

Rescue workers were using shovels and their bare hands to pull bodies from the debris of collapsed buildings, as the death toll from an earthquake that hit north-east India, Nepal and Tibet rose to 50. At least 25 people died in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim after the 6.9-magnitude quake, police said. Paramilitary soldiers had pulled out 18 bodies and had located seven others buried under mounds of concrete in Gangtok, Sikkim's capital, police chief Jasbir Singh said. Another 11 people were killed in the neighbouring Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal. Seven people died in Nepal and China's official Xinhua news agency reported seven deaths from Tibet. - SMH.
At least 50 people have been killed after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit north-east India and neighbouring Nepal. The quake was felt across a wide region after it struck the small, landlocked Himalayan state of Sikkim, which borders Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet at about 18.10 (12.40 GMT). Three victims were killed as a wall collapsed at the British embassy in Nepal's capital Kathmandu - among them a motorcyclist and his eight-year-old daughter. At least 60 people were injured in and around Gangtok, the state capital of Sikkim, by mudslides, falling debris and collapsing buildings. Gangtok resident CK Dahal said: "There is no electricity. "Everybody is out on the road. "We all ran out our houses, some even jumped out of their windows. "You can see some buildings that have developed cracks." Tremors from the quake were felt as far as 1,000km (621 miles) away in New Delhi and two strong aftershocks, one measuring 6.1, were also felt across the area. Sikkim's chief secretary Gyatso said five people had been killed and 60 hurt in and around Gangtok. "We have reports of dozens of collapsed houses, and roads to many towns have been blocked by landslides," Gyatso said. As many as 1,000 prisoners at Jalpaiguri prison in West Bengal state were also escorted from their cells under guard after the building was damaged by the quake, officials said. - Sky News.
WATCH: Earlier report from IBN Television Network.

WATCH: Quake hits Himalayan Region, scores killed.

UPDATE: Death toll Rises to 74 as Rain and Landslides Hamper Rescue!
Rescuers battled heavy rains and cleared dozens of landslides while making their way to Sikkim, the ground zero of Sunday evening's 6.8 magnitude earthquake that has so far claimed 74 lives across three countries - India, Nepal and China (Tibet). According to late-night reports, at least 58 people were killed and hundreds injured in Sikkim, Bengal and Bihar, in addition to nine deaths in Nepal and seven in Tibet. The toll is likely to rise, say rescuers. In Sikkim, the toll had reached 41. The maximum casualties have been in Rangpo, Dikchu, Singtam and Chungthang in north Sikkim. Ten persons have died in Bengal and seven in Bihar. TOI reached some of the worst-affected areas, following rescue convoys as they battled impossible odds. Every now and then progress was halted by massive landslides. Virtually nothing is left intact on the 100-km Gangtok-Chungthang road. NH-31A, the highway to Gangtok, was cleared by late afternoon. Roads and bridges between Meeli and Namchi in south Sikkim and Rawangla in west Sikkim have been severely damaged. Tourists have been warned not to venture beyond Gangtok. - Times of India.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Pakistan Death Toll At 347!

The number of people killed in flooding in Pakistan has risen to at least 347 in the past six weeks, the country's national disaster authority said Monday. Half a million people are living in refugee camps, the agency said.

At least 638 people have been injured by the flooding, which has affected 7.5 million people since August 10, the disaster authority said. Pakistan's prime minister canceled plans to address the United Nations this week so that he could "personally supervise the ongoing rescue and relief efforts for flood-affected areas," his office said Friday. Yusuf Raza Gilani was scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly, but Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will go in his place, the prime minister's office said. The southeastern Sindh province looked almost tranquil, with water standing anywhere from ankle-high to past the knees in otherwise empty land. But days before, the land wasn't empty. Thousands of homes were swept away or destroyed by the flooding, which has affected an area nearly half the size of the U.S. state of Delaware.
- CNN.
The United Nations appealed for $357 million Sunday to help millions of Pakistanis affected by floods that have damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and destroyed millions of acres of crops. Pakistan often experiences flooding from monsoon rains that lash much of South Asia from June to September. This year the rains have been heavier than normal, coming as many people were still trying to recover from last year's floods, which were the worst in the country's history. The money from the appeal would be used to help more than 5.4 million people in the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan over the next six months, said Humaira Mehboob, a spokeswoman for the U.N.'s humanitarian arm. Those provinces have been the worst hit by the floods this year. The floods have killed 223 people in Sindh alone, damaged or destroyed around 665,000 homes and displaced more than 1.8 million people, according to a rapid response plan issued by the U.N. on Sunday. "The situation of the people who have been forced to leave their homes is dire, and there is clear evidence of growing humanitarian needs," said the response plan. - Forbes.
Dengue fever has killed 25 people and affected more than 6,000 over the past two months in Lahore, Pakistan.

In total, 6,400 cases of dengue fever have been documented, said Ikhlaq Ahmed, spokesman for the health department of Punjab province. Of those, 6,000 are in Lahore, a city of more than 6 million people known as Pakistan's cultural capital. The 25 who died are all from Lahore, in eastern Pakistan. An average of 300 new cases of the virus-based disease, spread by mosquitoes, are being reported in the city daily. "We prefer to stay at home rather than going shopping," because of the threat of disease, said Zainab Khan, a 25-year-old professional from Lahore. Asim Hussain, who works in an office in Lahore, said, "I may lose my job," since he hasn't gone to work because of the outbreak. All the schools in Lahore have been closed by the provincial government, Ahmed said. The outbreak has created panic in the city, he said, as thousands of people crowd hospitals for testing. The city's poshest areas are among the hardest hit, he said. - CNN.
WATCH: Raw Video of flooding misery in Pakistan.

WATCH: Aid groups warn of fatal diseases in Pakistan

WATCH: Pakistan and UN ask for $350m in flood aid

: Aid required on urgent basis

CHERNOBYL 2: FUK-U-SHIMA Nuclear Dead Zone - Experts Estimate the Radiation from Fukishima Plant Will Exceed that of Chernobyl?!

At least one billion becquerels of radiation continue to leak from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant each day even though it is now more than five months after the March earthquake and tsunami that damaged the facility. Experts say that the total radiation leaked will eventually exceed the amounts released from the Chernobyl disaster that the Ukraine in April 1986. This amount would make Fukushima the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Six months after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, three experts at a forum in the US have laid out eight key concerns related to continuing health threats, unaddressed design flaws with nuclear plants and inadequate regulatory responses. The regulatory, scientific and health experts who agree that the “3/11” Fukushima disaster is still continuing are Peter Bradford, former member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, former chair of the New York and Maine utility regulatory commissions, and currently adjunct professor at Vermont Law School on “Nuclear Power and Public Policy”; Edwin Lyman, senior scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists; and Andrew Kanter, national board president elect, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and director of Medical Informatics/Health Info Services, Millennium Villages Project, Earth Institute, Columbia University. Mr Bradford said the US regulatory response since Fukushima has been inadequate. He said: “Six months after Fukushima, it seems clear that the US is not going to undertake the type of fundamental, no-holds-barred look at its nuclear regulatory practices that followed the much less serious accident at Three Mile Island some 30 years ago.”

Dr Lyman said America should avoid post-9/11 mistakes in tightening reactor safety standards. He said: “In responding to Fukushima by issuing orders, the NRC should not make the same mistakes as it did following 9/11, when industry stonewalling delayed implementation of critical security measures for many years. Some post 9/11 security upgrades have not been completed at numerous plants. The worldwide response to the Three Mile Island accident was clearly inadequate to prevent even worse events from occurring. The US must respond to Fukushima in a much more comprehensive way or it may soon face an accident even worse than Fukushima.” Dr Kanter said Japanese health dangers are getting short shrift. He said: “The last six months have shown a continued pattern of secrecy, cover-up, and minimisation. The news media and some so-called authorities have repeated the false information that doses under 100 mSv (millisieverts) have no health effects. All radiation doses have some effect, particularly when large populations are exposed. “The Japanese government's decision to increase the maximum allowed dose for citizens of Fukushima (including children) from 1 mSv per year to 20 mSv, the equivalent of 200 chest x-rays or the maximum many countries allow for nuclear workers is unacceptable and remains in place despite vehement public and international pressure.”

Dr Kanter said the impact on the health of Japanese children is being glossed over. “Children are at least three-to-four times more susceptible to radiation than are adults. There are about 350,000 children under 18 in Fukushima Prefecture. If each of these children were exposed to the 20 mSv maximum over two consecutive years, the National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report would predict 2,500 additional cancer deaths. “The upshot is that there is no safe dose of radiation and exposing non-consenting people, especially children, to these increased health risks is medically unacceptable. The Japanese government is not adequately monitoring radiation contamination of soil, food, water, and air and is not providing the parents with sufficient information to protect their children.” Mr Bradford said the US was warned of Fukushima-style problems but failed to act, and is still failing to do so. “US reactors have some of the shortcomings of the Fukushima plants.  Furthermore, citizen groups and scientists had tried to call one of these – spent fuel pool vulnerability -- to Nuclear Regulatory Commission attention during the last decade. “The NRC dismissed these efforts, with one commissioner even ordering the staff to do a review designed to discredit the concerns. The NRC reviews of Fukushima to date are all well and good, but the Commission and the Congress need to face up to the deeper lessons of Fukushima as well. “When mishaps occur at nuclear power plants, the NRC requires a “root cause analysis” that gets at the underlying causes as well as the immediate technical problems. Without a root cause analysis of its own failure to heed the now validated warnings about spent fuel pools, the NRC may patch the technical problems revealed by Fukushima, but it won’t fix the underlying shortcomings that allow defects to persist until catastrophic events rather than regulatory vigilance force  the nuclear industry and the public to face up to them.”
- Energy Asia.
WATCH: Japan's Fukushima is the "worst in history".

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Tambora Volcano in Indonesia - World's Deadliest Volcano Rumbles Ominously, Causing Farmers To Flee?!!

Bold farmers in Indonesia routinely ignore orders to evacuate the slopes of live volcanoes, but those living on Tambora took no chances when history’s deadliest mountain rumbled ominously this month. Villagers like Hasanuddin Sanusi have heard since they were young how the mountain they call home once blew apart in the largest eruption ever recorded – an 1815 event widely forgotten outside their region – killing 90,000 people and blackening skies on the other side of the globe.

So, the 45-year-old farmer didn’t wait to hear what experts had to say when Mount Tambora started being rocked by a steady stream of quakes. He grabbed his wife and four young children, packed his belongings and raced down its quivering slopes. “It was like a horror story, growing up,” said Hasanuddin, who joined hundreds of others in refusing to return to their mountainside villages for several days despite assurances they were safe. “A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that’s what we thought. If we made him angry – were disrespectful to nature, say – he’d wake up spitting flames, destroying all of mankind.” The April 1815 eruption of Tambora left a crater 11 kilometers (7 miles) wide and 1 kilometer (half a mile) deep, spewing an estimated 400 million tons of sulfuric gases into the atmosphere and leading to “the year without summer” in the U.S. and Europe.

It was 10 times more powerful than Indonesia’s much better-known Krakatoa blast of 1883 – history’s second deadliest. But it doesn’t share the same international renown, because the only way news spread across the oceans at the time was by slowboat, said Tambora researcher Indyo Pratomo. In contrast, Krakatoa’s eruption occurred just as the telegraph became popular, turning it into the first truly global news event. The reluctance of Hasanuddin and others to return to villages less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Tambora’s crater sounds like simple good sense. But it runs contrary to common practice in the sprawling nation of 240 million – home to more volcanoes than any other in the world. Even as Merapi, Kelut and other famously active mountains shoot out towering pillars of hot ash, farmers cling to their fertile slopes, leaving only when soldiers load them into trucks at gunpoint. They return before it’s safe to check on their livestock and crops. Tambora is different. People here are jittery because of the mountain’s history – and they’re not used to feeling the earth move so violently beneath their feet. Aside from a few minor bursts in steam in the 1960s, the mountain has been quiet for much of the last 200 years. Gede Suantika of the government’s Center for Volcanology said activity first picked up in April, with the volcanic quakes jumping from less than five a month to more than 200. “It also started spewing ash and smoke into the air, sometimes as high as 1,400 meters (4,600 feet),” he said. “That’s something I’ve never seen it do before.”

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Northwest Passage Open - Arctic Sea Ice Falls To The Lowest Cover Ever Recorded In About 8,000 Years?!!

Arctic sea ice cover fell to its lowest level on record, report researchers from the University of Bremen.

Analyzing data from NASA's Aqua satellite, Georg Heygster and colleagues found that Arctic sea ice fell to a record low of 4.24 million square kilometers on September 8, about 27,000 square kilometers than the previous record set roughly four years ago. Heygster said this year's mark is "most probably" the lowest Arctic sea ice extent "since the last climate optimum about 8,000 years ago." He added that the record could be extended if sea ice continues to melt in coming weeks. Sea ice is no longer melting from the surface; instead if it melting from underneath due to warmer water below.
The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which tracks sea ice using a different methology, is expected to release an update on sea ice extent later this month. Its last update showed sea ice coverage at 4.3 million square kilometers. Melting of sea ice opened the Northwest Passage to navigation again this summer. The ice retreat has set off a scramble between Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark, Sweden and Norway which are all seeking to claim rights to the Arctic's rich mineral and gas deposits. Sea ice hits its nadir in September before rebounding during the long Arctic winter. The loss of sea ice in the Arctic, which imperils a number of key species, has been widely linked to climate change resulting global greenhouse gas emissions. "The sea ice retreat can no more be explained with the natural variability from one year to the next," said a statement from the University of Bremen. "Climate models show rather, that the reduction is related to the man-made global warming." - Mongabay News.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Experts - Killer Bees Are Getting Even Angrier, As A Massive Hive Of 250,000 Bees That Killed A Giant Pig Is Discovered!

They are famed as being the angriest insects in the animal kingdom. But now experts believe killer bees have gotten even more furious in 2011.

Reed Booth, who calls himself the Killer Bee Guy and works with sheriffs' offices and fire departments to remove hives, had to this week take out a 200lb hive holding 250,000 killer bees on a farm in Bisbee, Arizona. The bees killed a 1,000lb hog and sent a pregnant 800lb sow into a coma, leaving all her piglets dead. 'This is the worst I've seen in 10 years,' Booth told KOLD-TV. ‘They're much ornier this year for some reason.' The massive find came after man in Wilhoit, Arizona, died following a bee attack and hives of 100lbs or more were discovered in homes in Phoenix. Speaking on the Bisbee incident after he had removed the hive, Mr Booth said: 'A thousand-pound pig is a huge thing. I'm kinda surprised that they did kill it.' - Daily Mail.
Killer bees attacked several farm animals and killed a 1,000-pound (450-kilogram) hog at a southern Arizona farm. KOLD-TV reports farmers were trying to move a hive that weighed around 200 pounds (90 kilograms) on Wednesday as an estimated 250,000 bees swarmed around like a black cloud and stung animals and farm workers. Bee expert Reed Booth says he was surprised at seeing the bees kill such a large hog, considering the animal has several layers of fat and skin. An 800-pound (360-kilogram) pregnant sow was stung so many times that she went into a coma and lost her litter. In northern Arizona, a man remains hospitalized after he was stung more than 1,000 times Sunday. Yavapai County authorities say 49-year-old DeWayne Spires disturbed bees nesting under a cattle trough. - NZ Herald.

EXTINCTION: Cottontail Rabbits Disappear from U.S. East Coast?!

The New England cottontail rabbit, in sharp decline for decades throughout the Northeast, is on the verge of disappearing from several states, with the reason somewhat a mystery, wildlife experts say.

The once prolific breeder, already no longer found in Vermont, has nearly vanished from Rhode Island and New Hampshire and exists in only negligible populations in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New York, according to biologists and U.S. officials. The New England native apparently has been supplanted by a look-alike competitor -- the abundant eastern cottontail, of which more than 200,000 were introduced locally in the early 1900s for hunters, a Rhode Island study found this week. Habitat loss and predation could partly explain this disappearing rabbit trick, although the eastern cottontail variety relies on similar habitats and must contend with the same predators, said the report's co-authors, Thomas Husband, natural resources science professor at University of Rhode Island and Brian Tefft, a state wildlife biologist. After studying the rabbits for almost 20 years, they say the New England cottontail looks close to being wiped out in Rhode Island. A statewide survey of its habitat and breeding sites has found evidence of only one remaining animal. - Daily Mail.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.8 Quake in Aleutian Islands, Alaska!

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A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck the Fox Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska at a depth of 34.7 km (21.6 miles). The quake hit at 08:14:10 UTC, Monday 19th September 2011 and was located at 52.041°N, 171.858°W. The epicenter was 162 km (100 miles) east of Atka, Alaska; 65 km (40 miles) southwest of Amukta Island, Alaska; 104 km (64 miles) southwest of Yunaska Island, Alaska; 1678 km (1042 miles) southwest of Anchorage, Alaska; and 2430 km (1509 miles) west of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.

This 5.8 earthquake came about an hour following a 5.4 tremor, that had a dept of 154.5 km (96 miles).

No tsunami warning was issued and there are no reports of any damage at this time.

EARTH CHANGES: 14 Killed, 18 Missing in Landslides in China!

At least 14 people were dead and 18 others missing after tons of rock and mud slid down a mountain in central China over the weekend, state-run media reported Monday. 

Rescuers retrieved 10 more bodies from the rubble Sunday afternoon, Xi'an vice mayor Zhu Zhisheng told the Xinhua news agency. Five people injured in the landslide were in stable condition at local hospitals, Zhu said. A team of specialists from China's Ministry of Land and Resources will be sent in to pinpoint the cause of the landslide and to help with the rescue work, said Zhu. The landslides have buried several workshops, a brick factory, and a nearby ceramics plant. Rain triggered the massive landslide Saturday afternoon in a suburb of Xi'an, which is the capital of Shaanxi province. Rescue efforts -- involving more than 700 police, firefighters and locals, according to Xinhua -- have been hampered by relentlessly heavy rains, which set off off three additional landslides Sunday morning. Heavy precipitation also caused serious problems in other Chinese communities. That included a landslide Saturday night that buried a home in Baoji, also in Shaanxi province. Two people who were dug from the rubble were rushed to a nearby hospital but eventually died, the municipal government said, according to Xinhua. Three people buried underneath a Sunday morning landslide in the same area were rescued and remain in stable condition at a hospital, doctors at the hospital told Xinhua. In addition, southwest China's Sichuan province has been battered with rains since Friday leaving six people dead and two missing as of Sunday afternoon. China's Provincial Civil Affairs Department reported that nearly 200,000 people were evacuated, fearing further rain-triggered disasters. Repair work continued Monday on a flooded main railway line in central Henan province. It was not immediately known when repairs would be complete and traffic could resume on the line. - CNN.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Typhoon Creates Lake in Japan!

A lake created by heavy rainfall from Typhoon No. 12 has grabbed the attention of visitors in Japan.

The lake formed over the Odashirogahara marshland in the Okunikko region of Tochigi Prefecture following six days of continuous heavy rainfall caused by Typhoon No. 12, which pounded Japan from the end of August through early September. An estimated 863 millimeters rain fell over the region over the six days through September 5. The lake, which measures about 200 meters by 150 meters, reflects the Nikko Mountains on calm days, and has become popular among visitors to the area. According to Nikko Natural Science Museum representatives, a similar phenomenon occurred four years ago, and the lake is expected to remain for some time. "We'll be able to see it for about a month," a museum worker said. - MDN.