Monday, February 6, 2012

PLANETARY TREMORS: 70 Aftershocks Recorded After Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake in the Philippines - Widespread Fear and Panic About the Possible Eruption of an Underwater Volcano and a Large Tsunami?! UPDATE: 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks the Philippines - Kills 43, Injuries Many and Dozens of Homes Are Buried! UPDATE: Death Toll Rises to 53 as an Aftershock of 6.0 Magnitude Rocks Central Philippines!

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) denied under water volcanoes caused the series of earthquakes in the Eastern Visayas starting Saturday night.

This, as Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr. pacified fears that volcanoes there would erupt anytime soon. Text messages started spreading last night that an under water volcano is on the verge of erupting. This will supposedly cause a large tsunami.

Local radio stations have already denied the information. Authorities there also said the information is untrue. A total of 70 aftershocks were recorded in the area ever since a magnitude 5.9 was recorded in the southeastern part of San Policarpio in Eastern Samar.

Solidum told ABS-CBNnews.com that the cause of the earthquake was due to subduction. According to the US Geological Survey, subduction is the process of the oceanic lithosphere colliding with and descending beneath the continental lithosphere. No casualties have been recorded so far. – with a report from Geron Ponferra, ABS-CBN News Eastern Visayas  - ABS-CBN News.

UPDATE: 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks the Philippines - Kills 13, Injuries Many and Dozens of Homes Are Buried!



Bartolome Bautista, deputy director of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS),
points to the epicenter of the magnitude 6.8 earthquake which hit central Philippines on Monday
Feb. 6, 2012 during a news conference at suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines.
Officials said the quake in central Philippines killed at least five people as it destroyed buildings,
triggered landslides that buried dozens of houses, trapping residents and listed 29 more as missing.
(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A strong earthquake in the central Philippines killed at least 13 people Monday as it destroyed buildings and triggered landslides that buried dozens of houses, trapping residents. At least 29 people were missing. The 6.8-magnitude quake, in a narrow strait just off Negros Island, caused a landslide in Guihulngan, a city of about 180,000 people in Negros Oriental province. As many as 30 houses were buried and at least 29 people were missing, Mayor Ernesto Reyes said.

"Their situation is bad because if you are covered by landslide for one hour, two hours, how can you breathe?" he said. "But we just hope for the best, that there are still survivors." Rescuers were using picks and shovels to dig for survivors, he said. Reyes said at least 10 people were confirmed dead in his town, including students at a college and an elementary school and others in a market that collapsed. About 100 were injured. The quake, which hit at 11:49 a.m. (0349 GMT), triggered another landslide in the mountain village of Solongon in La Libertad town, also in Negros Oriental. An unknown number of people were trapped, said La Libertad police chief inspector Eric Arrol Besario.

"We're now getting shovels and chain saws to start a rescue because there were people trapped inside. Some of them were yelling for help earlier," Besario told The Associated Press by phone. Three key bridges in the town suffered cracks and were no longer passable, he said. Philippine seismologists briefly issued a tsunami alert for the central islands. Five bamboo and wooden cottages were washed out from a beach resort in La Libertad by huge waves, but there were no reports of injuries, said police Superintendent Ernesto Tagle. Elsewhere along the coast, people rushed out of schools, malls and offices.

The epicenter was closest to Tayasan, a coastal town of about 32,000 people flanked by mountains in Negros Oriental province. Two died there, including a child when a concrete fence of a house collapsed, said Benito Ramos, head of the Office of Civil Defense. Another child was killed in a church when a wall collapsed during a funeral in Negros Oriental's Jimalalud town, Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda said. Tayasan police officer Alfred Vicente Silvosa told The AP by phone that aftershocks were preventing people from returning to their homes. Seismologists recorded nearly 45 aftershocks.

"We are outside, at the town plaza. We cannot inspect buildings yet because it's dangerous," Silvosa said. "I felt the building shaking, so I rushed out of the building. Our computers, shelves, plates, the cupboards, water dispenser all fell." A three-story office building also collapsed in La Libertad, but occupants managed to run out. Negros Oriental police chief Edward Carranza said the temblor damaged many houses in Guihulngan and he ordered his men to help displaced residents find shelter.

Officials in some areas suspended work and canceled classes. Power and telecommunications were knocked out in several places. Carranza said police rushed out of his building when the quake struck. "All my personnel ran out fearing our building would collapse," he said. "Now it's shaking again," he said as an aftershock hit. "My keychain is dancing."

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 44 miles (72 kilometres) north of Dumaguete city on Negros and hit at a depth of 29 miles (46 kilometres). The area is about 400 miles (650 kilometres) southeast of the capital, Manila. The Philippines is located in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. A 7.7-magnitude quake killed nearly 2,000 people in Luzon in 1990. - Today Online.
WATCH: The Earthquake Report.


WATCH: Scenes of panic from Cebu City.




UPDATE: Death Toll Rises to 43!

A strong earthquake in the central Philippines killed at least 43 people Monday as it destroyed buildings and triggered landslides that buried dozens of houses, trapping residents. Dozens more people were reported missing. The 6.8-magnitude quake, in a narrow strait just off Negros Island, caused a landslide in Guihulngan, a city of about 180,000 people in Negros Oriental province. As many as 30 houses were buried and at least 29 people were missing, Mayor Ernesto Reyes said.

The Philippine Army said they had counted at least 43 dead bodies in areas hardest hit by the quake, reports CBS News' Barnaby Lo from the capital, Manila. The country's disaster management agency was still verifying the reported deaths. Lo reports that at least bridges in the region were severely damaged by the quake, leaving them impassable and greatly hindering the search and recovery effort. The quake, which hit at 11:49 a.m. (3:49 a.m. GMT), triggered another landslide in the mountain village of Solongon in La Libertad town, also in Negros Oriental. An unknown number of people were trapped, said La Libertad police chief inspector Eric Arrol Besario.

"We're now getting shovels and chain saws to start a rescue because there were people trapped inside. Some of them were yelling for help earlier," Besario told The Associated Press by phone. Three key bridges in the town suffered cracks and were no longer passable, he said. Philippine seismologists briefly issued a tsunami alert for the central islands. Five bamboo and wooden cottages were washed out from a beach resort in La Libertad by huge waves, but there were no reports of injuries, said police Superintendent Ernesto Tagle. Elsewhere along the coast, people rushed out of schools, malls and offices.

The epicenter was closest to Tayasan, a coastal town of about 32,000 people flanked by mountains in Negros Oriental province. A child there died when a concrete fence of a house collapsed, said Benito Ramos, head of the Office of Civil Defense. "So far one dead, but we could not yet account for the damage to buildings," Tayasan police officer Alfred Vicente Silvosa told The AP by phone. He said there were still aftershocks "so we are outside, at the town plaza. We cannot inspect buildings yet because it's dangerous."

"I felt the building shaking, so I rushed out of the building. Our computers, shelves, plates, the cupboards, water dispenser all fell," he said. A three-story office building also collapsed in La Libertad, but occupants managed to run out. Negros Oriental police chief Edward Carranza said the temblor damaged many houses in Guihulngan and he ordered his men to help displaced residents find shelter. Officials in some areas suspended work and canceled classes. Power and telecommunications were knocked out in several places.

Carranza said police rushed out of his building when the quake struck. "All my personnel ran out fearing our building would collapse," he said. "Now it's shaking again," he said as an aftershock hit. "My keychain is dancing." The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 44 miles north of Dumaguete city on Negros and hit at a depth of 29 miles. The area is about 400 miles southeast of the capital, Manila.

President Benigno Aquino III's spokesman said authorities did not force people to evacuate but implored those along the shore to be vigilant. The coast guard grounded all vessels while the tsunami alert was in effect. A mall in San Carlos city in neighboring Negros Occidental province was damaged when its windows were shattered by the shaking, said Ramos, the civil defense leader. The quake was also felt in Cebu, where it lasted about 30 seconds. The Philippines is located in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. A 7.7-magnitude quake killed nearly 2,000 people in Luzon in 1990. - CBS News.

WATCH: Philippines earthquake kills scores.



UPDATE: Death Toll Rises to 53 as an Aftershock of 6.0 Magnitude Rocks Central Philippines!

At least 53 people are dead or missing after an earthquake struck the central Philippines Monday in the latest disaster to hit the volcano and temblor-prone archipelago.

Local government officials and rescue agencies say at least 13 people were killed by 6.9-magnitude earthquake that hit the narrow strait separating Negros and Cebu islands. At least 40 other people are missing, many of them buried by landslides after the lunchtime-quake dislodged large slabs of earth. Governor Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental province said around 30 houses were buried in the village of Planas alone, trapping dozens of people. - Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, a magnitude 6.0 aftershock struck Negros - Cebu Region at 10:10:24 UTC. This tremor was located at 9.874°N, 123.070°E with a shallow depth of 15 km (9.3 miles).


The epicentre was 60 km (37 miles) northwest of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines; 82 km (50 miles) northwest of Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines; 94 km (58 miles) southeast of Bacolod, Negros, Philippines; and 578 km (359 miles) SSE of Manila, Philippines.


ICE AGE NOW: The Big Freeze - Europe's Cold Snap Kills Hundreds; Affects Transport, Tourism; Massive Traffic Upheaval Across UK; Eastern Europe's Heaviest Snow in Decades; Spreading Towards the West! UPDATE: Snow Forces Heathrow to Cancel Half its Flights and Traps Thousands in Bosnian Villages! UPDATE: Europe in Grip of Deadly Freeze as Death Toll Rises to 420!

A weeklong cold snap has now claimed more than 220 lives across Europe, with forecasters warning that the big freeze - which has even blanketed Rome in snow - would tighten its grip over the weekend.

A total of 223 people have died from the cold weather in the past seven days, according to Agence France-Presse, in what has become the harshest European winter in decades. Ukraine suffering the highest toll - with 101 deaths recorded since the cold snap began. Temperatures plummeted as low to -16.6 degrees in the capital Kiev. Poland, Bulgaria and Romania also recorded high death tolls. According to AFP, the dead included hundreds of homeless people who have frozen to death. The cold has extended as far south as Serbia, where thousands were trapped under heavy snow and blizzards in the country's mountain villages. In Italy, up to three inches of snow fell in some districts of the Italian capital, and the Colosseum was closed to prevent visitors slipping on ice or damaging the structure. Daytime temperatures in Paris hit 23 degrees, and Marseilles was uncharacteristically frigid.


According to Al Jazeera, temperatures had dropped to -22 degrees and below in other parts of Europe, causing power outages, traffic chaos and the widespread closure of schools and airports. However, the lowest temperatures recorded were in the south-west of the Czech Republic, where the mercury hit -36 degrees overnight. Amid the freeze, vital Russian gas deliveries were curtailed in nine countries for a third straight day, the Wall Street Journal reported. Moscow blamed the cuts on increased domestic demand. "Russia is experiencing a really cold winter and it needs more gas than usual," said Marlene Holzner, a spokeswoman for European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger. In Moscow, the temperature stayed below 5 degrees for a third week running, The Guardian reported. Most EU member countries had reportedly been relatively unaffected by the shortage, aided by supplies from neighbors and existing stores. - Global Post.

WATCH: More than 200 dead in Europe's big chill.


Europe's cold snap spreads west.

The cold snap that wreaked havoc on eastern and central Europe this week moved west on Saturday, triggering a rare snowfall in Rome and prompting Heathrow Airport to cancel some flights. Ukraine appears to be the worst affected so far, with Poland, Romania, Serbia and Belarus also suffering much more severe winter conditions than usual. A total of 122 people have frozen to death in Ukraine since the cold spell started more than a week ago, the state-run news agency Ukrinform reported, citing government ministries. More than 1,500 people have been hospitalized, it said. In Rome, residents woke up to snow for the first time since 1985. The rare precipitation caused traffic jams and left some people stranded.


While further west, in London, Heathrow Airport said it would cancel approximately 30% of its flights on Sunday in response to the winter weather. "This decision ensures that the greatest number of passengers can fly with the minimum amount of disruption. It also means that those passengers whose flights are canceled will know in advance, and can make alternative arrangements or rebook in relative comfort," said Normand Boivin, chief operating officer for the airport. CNN meteorologist Mari Ramos said the challenge now faced by many people is that the cold spell is lasting so long. The first reports of heavy snow came from Romania on January 26, Ramos said. Now, although temperatures are becoming more moderate, the snowfall will be very heavy. Twenty-nine people had died in Poland as of Thursday, according to the publicly funded Polish Radio's news website. Other cold-related deaths have been reported in Serbia, Romania and elsewhere in the past week. - CNN.
Colosseum Shut As Heavy Snowfall Hits Rome.
The first major snowfall in Rome for 26 years has led to the closure of the world-famous Colosseum over fears that tourists could slip on the icy ruins. The cold weather also left buses struggling to drive up the Italian capital's slushy hills, and cars without tyre chains were temporarily ordered off the road. Scores of vehicles were blocked for hours on the ring road around the city after cars skidded and crashed.

Drivers frustrated at waiting for accidents to be cleared ended up abandoning their cars. About 6cm (2.5in) of snow fell in many areas of the capital. Authorities stopped visitors from entering the Colosseum, the adjacent Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors. - SKY News.
WATCH: Eastern Europe's heaviest snow 'in decades'.


WATCH: London covered in a blanket of snow.


WATCH: Driver spends night in car on M25.


WATCH: Heavy snow causes traffic upheaval across much of UK.


WATCH: Weather warning issued for ice in Wales, Scotland and England.


WATCH: UK snow scenes.


UPDATE: Snow Forces Heathrow to Cancel Half its Flights and Traps Thousands in Bosnian Villages!

Heathrow Airport has cut around half of the 1,300 flights scheduled for Sunday after snow and freezing temperatures hit much of England on Saturday. "Heathrow is open. Our runways, taxiways and stands have been cleared of snow. Our snow plan has worked far better than in previous years, and the airport is getting back to normal. However, there will still be disruption for passengers, as indicated Saturday," Heathrow owner BAA said in a statement. Around 10 centimetres of snow fell over Britain in 24 hours.

BAA was criticised in December 2010 after heavy snowfall led to the virtual shutdown of Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, leaving thousands of passengers stranded. "British Airways has complied with the request (to introduce a reduced flight schedule) and continues to work with BAA to help keep the airport running as smoothly as possible. We are combining some of our schedule to ensure our customers can continue to fly to their destination as planned on alternate services," said flag carrier British Airways, which runs the largest fleet in Britain.

London's Gatwick airport said it planned to operate as normal but warned passengers of possible disruptions. BAA said that based on current weather forecasts, there was no need to make wholesale changes to Heathrow's flight schedule Monday. "There may still be some cancellations as a result of disruption with aircraft and crew needing to be repositioned," BAA said. "There is no further snowfall forecast Sunday, but there is a forecast of freezing fog from 1800 GMT." - Yahoo.

Snow Traps Thousands in Bosnian Villages.

Bosnia used helicopters on Sunday to evacuate the sick and deliver food to thousands of people left stranded by its heaviest snowfall ever, while Pope Benedict XVI donned an overcoat to bless the few pilgrims who braved Rome's unusually cold weather to visit St. Peter's Square.

"The snow is beautiful, but let's hope spring comes soon," the pope told the pilgrims, looking out over remnants of Rome's biggest snowstorm since 1986. Across Eastern Europe, thousands of people continued to dig out from heavy snow that has fallen during a cold snap that struck more than a week ago and has killed hundreds of people. In Ukraine, the hardest hit area, temperatures have fallen as low as minus 33 Fahrenheit (minus 36 Celsius). The government said Sunday the country's death toll now stands at 131, including many homeless people. About 2,300 other Ukrainians have sought treatment for frostbite or hypothermia. At the other end of Europe, Britain had its first snowfall of the winter on Saturday - up to 6.3 inches (16 centimeters) - forcing London's Heathrow Airport - Europe's busiest - to cancel flights and stranding many drivers overnight on highways. Stansted, Birmingham and Luton airports suspended operations overnight as snow piled up on runways, but resumed operations Sunday.

Still, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip managed to brave the cold and snow to attend a service at West Newton church on her Sandringham Estate in eastern England on Sunday. The 85-year-old monarch marks 60 years on the throne on Monday, and her Diamond Jubilee anniversary will be marked by a series of regional, national and international events throughout 2012. In Bosnia, more than 100 remote villages have been cut off by 6 1/2 feet (2 meters) of snow in the mountains. More than three feet (1 meter) fell in Sarajevo, the capital, where a state of emergency has been declared. Three helicopters cruised over eastern Bosnia Sunday, delivering food and picking up people who needed evacuation. Sarajevo has been paralyzed since Friday evening and authorities have ordered all schools closed. Residents have volunteered to remove snow and ice from the trams that are stuck along the city's tracks.

In neighboring Serbia, officials said 70,000 people remain cut off. So far, 32 municipalities throughout the country have introduced emergency measures, said senior emergency official Predrag Maric. Later Sunday, Serbia's emergency board was to meet to discuss the crisis. In Montenegro, the north of the country remained cut off, although emergency crews have managed to clear some of the blocked roads. The situation also had improved somewhat in Croatia, where bus traffic toward the coast resumed, even as snow slowed traffic throughout the country. In the coastal town of Split, where authorities declared emergency measures, dozens of people sought medical help for injuries sustained on ice and snow. Snow is extremely rare in Split, which is on the Adriatic coast.

Snow also has fallen on Spain's Balearic islands in the Mediterranean. In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI managed to keep his Sunday appointment at the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, still covered with snow from the day before. Bundled up in a white overcoat, the pope blessed an unusually small crowd of pilgrims. Meanwhile, Rome's mayor is being criticized for the lack of snow plows and salters. But the city counters that it can't spend millions of euros (dollars) on equipment that might not be used in decades. - The Associated Press.

WATCH: BIG FREEZE - Snow and ice cause UK travel trouble.


UPDATE: Europe in Grip of Deadly Freeze as Death Toll Rises to 420!


It is so cold in eastern Europe that parts of the Black Sea have frozen over. The death toll from severe cold weather sweeping across Europe has risen to 420, while tens of thousands of households are left without electricity in Italy. Ukraine has suffered the heaviest toll of 140 deaths from a ten-day cold spell which has brought freezing temperatures to the country. Many of the dead were homeless people who literally froze to death as the temperature dropped to minus 50 degrees in some part of the continent. Their bodies were found in the streets under snow, in rivers and in doorways.

Temperatures fell as low as minus 10 degrees in Milan on Monday, while 59,000 households remained without electricity throughout the country. The death toll from the rare cold snap in Italy rose to 17 people, with eight deaths reported on Sunday including three homeless people found in the seaside town of Ostia near Rome and at the capital’s train station. - Press TV.




GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report From the Smithsonian and the USGS - New Activities and Unrest!

The following constitutes the  Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program.



NEW ACTIVITY/UNREST

CLEVELAND
Chuginadak Island 52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m

AVO
reported that on 31 January the Volcano Alert Level for Cleveland was raised to Watch and the Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange due to the formation of a new 40-m-wide lava dome in the summit crater that was observed in satellite imagery on 30 January. The lava dome that formed during the past fall and winter was removed by explosive activity on 25 and 29 December 2011. No current seismic information was available because Cleveland does not have a real-time seismic network. Map

GAMALAMA
Halmahera 0.80°N, 127.33°E; summit elev. 1715 m

CVGHM
lowered the Alert Level for Gamalama from 3 to 2 (on a scale of 1-4) on 24 January based on visual observations of white plumes rising as high as 100 m above the crater and a decrease in seismicity since the last eruption on 23 December 2011. Map

KRAKATAU Indonesia 6.102°S, 105.423°E; summit elev. 813 m

CVGHM
lowered the Alert Level for Anak Krakatau from 3 to 2 (on a scale of 1-4) on 26 January. No details or reasons for the change were given in the report. Map

LEWOTOLO
Lomblen Island (Indonesia) 8.272°S, 123.505°E; summit elev. 1423 m

On 25 January CVGHM lowered the Alert Level for Lewotolo from 3 to 2 (on a scale of 1-4) based on decreased seismicity and visual observations during 5-15 January. During 5-15 January fumarolic plumes rose 200-500 m above the summit and incandescence was observed. Map

NYAMURAGIRA
Democratic Republic of Congo 1.408°S, 29.20°E; summit elev. 3058 m

The VolcanoDiscovery Team observed the fissure eruption at Nyamuragira that began on 6 November 2011 during 22-25 January 2012 from the newly formed cinder cones located about 10 km E of the summit crater. They reported three coalescent cones with the largest cone containing a small lava lake. The lake ejected spatter every few seconds as high as 200 m above the summit; individual bombs reached the base of the cone. Lava flows from the vent extended several kilometers N. Numerous small breakouts formed secondary flows, and a large breakout about 2 km N of the cone fed a large lava flow about 20 m wide. Burning forests were reported to the NNE. Map

PALUWEH
Lesser Sunda Islands (Indonesia) 8.32°S, 121.708°E; summit elev. 875 m

Seismic activity from Paluweh (also known as Rokatenda) increased during 12-18 January, prompting CVGHM to raise the Alert Level from 1 to 2 (on a scale of 1-4) on 19 January. Fog prevented visual observations of the volcano. Map


WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - U.S. Closes Embassy in Syria and Ayatollah Declares "Kill All Jews, Annihilate Israel"! UPDATE: UK Ambassador Withdrawn From Syria For Talks!

The U.S. State Department shuttered its embassy in Syria and pulled out its remaining staff Monday after the government refused to address its security concerns, senior State Department officials tell CNN.



The officials said 17 employees, including Ambassador Robert Ford, left the country. Two employees flew out of the Syria last week by commercial air, with the rest of them, including Ford, traveling by convoy Monday morning to Jordan. Most of the staff were evacuated earlier in the year, and the diplomatic team was further reduced in December. The Syrians were notified about the decision to pull the staff and shutter the embassy after the employees were out of the country, the officials said.


The officials said the deterioration of the situation in the country made it impossible for the embassy to continue operations and for the staff to remain. "The government is getting stretched beyond its ability to control the various elements of violence in the country," one senior official said. - CNN.

WATCH: Syrian forces bombard Homs in 'fiercest attack yet'.


WATCH: Syrian army 'steps up Homs offensive'.


UPDATE: Ayatollah Declares "Kill All Jews, Annihilate Israel"!
The Iranian government, through a website proxy, has laid out the legal and religious justification for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its people. The doctrine includes wiping out Israeli assets and Jewish people worldwide. Calling Israel a danger to Islam, the conservative website Alef, with ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the opportunity must not be lost to remove “this corrupting material. It is a “‘jurisprudential justification” to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.”


The article, written by Alireza Forghani, a conservative analyst and a strategy specialist in Khamenei’s camp, now is being run on most state-owned conservative sites, including the Revolutionary Guards’ Fars News Agency, showing that the regime endorses this doctrine. Because Israel is going to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran is justified in launching a pre-emptive, cataclysmic attack against the Jewish state, the doctrine argues. On Friday, in a major speech at prayers, Khamenei announced that Iran will support any nation or group that attacks the “cancerous tumor” of Israel. Though his statement was seen by some in the West as fluff, there is substance behind it.


Iran’s Defense Ministry announced this weekend that it test-fired an advanced two-stage, solid-fuel ballistic missile and boasted about successfully putting a new satellite into orbit, reminding the West that its engineers have mastered the technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles even as the Islamic state pushes its nuclear weapons program. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Brig. Gen. Seyyed Mehdi Farahi, stated in August that the Safir missile, which is capable of transporting a satellite into space, can easily be launched parallel to the earth’s orbit, which will transform it into an intercontinental ballistic missile. Western analysts didn’t believe this would happen until 2015. Historically, orbiting a satellite is the criterion for crediting a nation with ICBM capability.


Forghani details the Islamic duty of jihad as laid out in the Quran for the sake of Allah and states that “primary jihad,” according to some Shiite jurists, can only occur when the Hidden Imam, the Shiites’ 12th Imam Mahdi, returns. Shiites believe Mahdi’’s return will usher in Armageddon. In the absence of the hidden Imam, Forghani says, “defensive jihad” could certainly take place when Islam is threatened, and Muslims must defend Islam and kill their enemies. To justify such action, Alef quotes the Shiites’ first imam, Ali, who stated “Waging war against the enemies with whom war is inevitable and there is a strong possibility that in near future they will attack Muslims is a must and the duty of Muslims.” In this regard, Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa in which he has even authorized carrying out primary jihad in the age of the absence of the Hidden imam under the authorization of Vali Faghih.


The article then quotes the Quran (Albaghara 2:191-193): “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers] … and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.” It is the duty for all Muslims to participate in this defensive jihad, Forghani says. A fatwa by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini made it clear that any political domination by infidels over Muslims authorizes Muslims to defend Islam by all means. Iran now has the ICBM means to deliver destruction on Israel and soon will have nuclear warheads for those missiles. In order to attack Iran, the article says, Israel needs the approval and assistance of America, and under the current passive climate in the United States, the opportunity must not be lost to wipe out Israel before it attacks Iran.


Under this pre-emptive defensive doctrine, several Ground Zero points of Israel must be destroyed and its people annihilated. Forghani cites the last census by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics that shows Israel has a population of 7.5 million citizens of which a majority of 5.7 million are Jewish. Then it breaks down the districts with the highest concentration of Jewish people, indicating that three cities, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, contain over 60 percent of the Jewish population that Iran could target with its Shahab 3 ballistic missiles, killing all its inhabitants. Forghani suggests that Iran’s Sejil missile, which is a two-stage rocket with a trajectory and speed that make it impossible to intercept, should target such Israeli facilities as: the Rafael nuclear plant, which is the main nuclear engineering center of Israel; the Eilun nuclear plant; another Israeli reactor in Nebrin; and the Dimona reactor in the nuclear research center in Neqeb, the most critical nuclear reactor in Israel because it produces 90 percent enriched uranium for Israel’s nuclear weapons.


Other targets, according to the article, include airports and air force bases such as the Sedot Mikha Air Base, which contains Jericho ballistic missiles and is located southwest of the Tel Nof Air Base, where aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons are based. Secondary targets include power plants, sewage treatment facilities, energy resources, and transportation and communication infrastructures. Finally, Forghani says, Shahab 3 and Ghadr missiles can target urban settlements until the Israelis are wiped out. Forghani claims that Israel could be destroyed in less than nine minutes and that Khamenei, as utmost authority, the Velayete Faghih (Islamic Jurist), also believes that Israel and America not only must be defeated but annihilated. The radicals ruling Iran today not only posses over 1,000 ballistic missiles but are on the verge of ICBM delivery and have sufficient enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs even as they continue to highly enrich uranium despite four sets of U.N. sanctions. - WND.
WATCH: Iran's warships arrive in Saudi Arabia.




UPDATE: UK Ambassador Withdrawn From Syria For Talks!

Britain has recalled its ambassador from Syria for consultations as the "doomed as well as murdering regime" of President Bashar al Assad launched a bloody assault on the city of Homs. Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had also summoned Syria's representative in London to the Foreign Office so he could express his "abhorrence" at the violence.

Earlier, the United States said it was also pulling its diplomatic staff out of Syria and shutting its embassy. The new diplomatic moves came after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Mr Assad's regime. Mr Hague criticised Russia and China for their "grave error of judgement" over the resolution. "Such vetoes are a betrayal of the Syrian people," he said. - SKY News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report From the Smithsonian, the USGS and Volcano Discovery - Ongoing Activities!

The following constitutes the  Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program.



ONGOING ACTIVITY

DUKONO
Halmahera 1.68°N, 127.88°E; summit elev. 1335 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 30-31 January ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.7 km (9,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 220 km SW. Map

ETNA
Sicily (Italy) 37.734°N, 15.004°E; summit elev. 3330 m

Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo reported that an explosion at the New Southeast Crater (New SEC) of Etna generated an ash plume at that rose 400 m above the crater at 1906 on 27 January. An explosive ash emission at 1124 from the vent on the W portion of the crater floor was followed by others that were less intense. At 2140 an explosion ejected incandescent material in a narrow vertical jet that rose a few tens of meters above the crater. A small Strombolian explosion occurred at 2231. On 28 January sporadic ash emissions continued from New SEC.  Map

HIERRO
Canary Islands (Spain) 27.73°N, 18.03°W; summit elev. 1500 m

Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) reported that during 25-31 January the submarine eruption continued S of El Hierro Island. Mean tremor amplitude maintained very low values during this report period. Frequent and persistent emissions of large steaming lava fragments were observed on the sea surface, some of them about 3 m wide. Seventy-eight seismic events were registered during this period, most of them located in the central part of the island, with offshore events extending primary to the S. Depths of the hypocenters varied between 10 and 23 km, and magnitudes between 0.4 and 2.8. Analyses of GPS deformation showed stability both in vertical and horizontal components. Map

KARYMSKY
Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 54.05°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1536 m

KVERT
reported that seismic activity continued at a moderate level at Karymsky during 19-27 January and indicated that ash plumes possibly rose to an altitude of 3 km (9,840 ft) a.s.l. during 19-21 and on 25 January. Satellite imagery showed a thermal anomaly at the volcano during 21-24 January and gas-and-steam plumes containing ash that were drifting as far as 70 km NW on 23 January. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange. Map

KILAUEA
Hawaii (USA) 19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

During 25-31 January, HVO reported that the lava lake circulated and periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater. Almost daily measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash and fresh spatter nearby. During 25-27 January lava ejections on the SE edge built a small spatter rampart and produced small lava flows on the inner ledge.
Incandescence was visible on the NE, SE, and W edges of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor during 25-31 January. On 25 January lava started to fill a Pu'u 'O'o crater floor depression and continued episodically all week. Geologists on a 26 January overflight reported lava flows 4 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o. On 27 January the SE and NE vents started to effuse lava. During 24-31 January, thermal anomalies were seen in satellite imagery 3-4 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o cone. Map


KIZIMEN
Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 55.130°N, 160.32°E; summit elev. 2376 m

KVERT
reported moderate seismic activity at Kizimen during 20-27 January and a large thermal anomaly that was detected daily in satellite images. Video and satellite observations indicated both continued effusion of a large lava flow on the E flank and accompanying hot avalanches. Video data showed strong gas-and-steam activity all week. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange. Map

PAGAN
Mariana Islands 18.13°N, 145.80°E; summit elev. 570 m

Low-level gas-and-steam plumes from Pagan were observed in satellite imagery during 20-27 January. Based on information from the Honolulu MWO, satellite imagery, and a pilot observation, the Washington VAAC reported gas emissions and a possible light-brown ash plume drifting E on 30 January. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Advisory. Map

POPOCATEPETL México 19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5426 m

CENAPRED
reported that during 25-31 January steam-and-gas emissions rose from Popocatépetl; some of the emissions contained moderate amounts of ash on 25 and 29 January. On 25 January an ash plume rose 3 km above the crater and drifted NE. Crater incandescence was observed at night on 29 and 31 January. Map

PUYEHUE-CORDON CAULLE
Central Chile 40.590°S, 72.117°W; summit elev. 2236 m

Based on seismicity detected during 25-31 January OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that the eruption from the Cordón Caulle rift zone, part of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex, continued at a low level. During 25-28 January plumes observed with a web camera rose 2-4 km above the crater and satellite images showed ash plumes drifting 90-320 km S and SE. During 29-31 January clouds prevented views. The Alert Level remained at Red. Map

SAKURA-JIMA Kyushu 31.585°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 25-27 and 29-30 January explosions from Sakura-jima produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.5-3 km (5,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E and SE. On 29 January a pilot observed an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. Map

SANTA MARIA
Guatemala 14.756°N, 91.552°W; summit elev. 3772 m

INSIVUMEH
reported that active lava flows on the S and SE flanks of Santa María's Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated block avalanches on 27 and 30 January. Moderate explosions generated ash plumes that rose 700 m above the complex and drifted SW and S. Strong winds caused re-suspended ash to rise 1 km high and drift several kilometers W and S. Ashfall was reported in Monte Claro (S) and Palajunoj (SW) on 27 January. Map

SHIVELUCH Central Kamchatka (Russia) 56.653°N, 161.360°E; summit elev. 3283 m

KVERT
reported that mostly low levels of seismic activity were detected at Shiveluch during 20-27 January, though seismicity was higher during 22-23 January. Satellite imagery showed a daily thermal anomaly over the lava dome. Ground-based observers noted that a viscous lava flow continued to effuse in the crater that was formed during a 2010 eruption. Moderate fumarolic activity at the lava dome and occasional hot avalanches were observed during 25-26 January; clouds prevented observations on the other days of the week. Ash plumes rose to altitudes of 5-6 km (16,400-19,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 174 km NE on 23 January. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange. Map

SOUFRIERE HILLS Montserrat 16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

MVO
reported that during 20-27 January activity at the Soufrière Hills lava dome was at a low level. Small areas of incandescence emanated from the lava dome at night, similar to observations noted in recent months. On 27 January a small lahar descended from the W side of the lava dome. The Hazard Level remained at 2. Map


VOLCANO DISCOVERY UPDATES

In addition to this, Volcano Discovery provides this update on the following volcanoes:

Earthquake Swarms Near Katla and Henggil Volcanoes in Iceland.

Small seismic swarms have occurred near Katla volcano (S Iceland), Henggil volcano (SW Iceland) and a weaker swarm near Askja (N-Central Iceland) during the past 48 hours. The cause of the swarms is unclear and their intensity is not alarming. They are not necessarily volcanic, but could related to tectonic stress release around the main Icelandic rift zones. See more HERE.

Tracking the Semeru Volcano in East Java, Indonesia - Alert Level Raised to 3, After Increase Activity.

A slight increase in activity of Semeru volcano's activity has been observed by the Indonesian Geological Survey in recent weeks and its alert level was raised to 3 (out of 4, watch) on 3 February 2012, after it had been on level 2 since 16 July 2009. Only small to moderate eruptions had been occurring over most of the past year. Between 29 December and 15 January, 8 explosions were counted which produced ash clouds up to 600 m high. One explosion threw incandescent bombs to a distance of 300 m from the Jonggring Seloko crater. During 15-29 January, only weak explosions were recorded and a small steam and ash plume rising 25-50 m was observed. Between 30 and 31 January, 5 explosions were recorded.

They produced incandescent fallout in up to 400 m distance. On 2 February at 07:47 local time, a stronger explosion produced incandescent bombs that reached 750 m distance and caused a small avalanche of blocks rolling down a distance of up to 2.5 km. The heightened activity triggered the raise in alert level the following day. At its present status level of 3, PVMBG recommends to stay away at least 4 km from the summit on the SE side of the volcano and climbers are advised not to approach the Jonggring Seloko crater less than 1 km. As of 6 February, no significant changes to its activity have been reported by our correspondent on location. See more HERE.

Tungurahua Volcano in Ecuador Produces Sudden Ash Explosion.

Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador) produced a sudden strong ash explosion yesterday (4 Feb 2012) morning at 05:50 local time, following an increase in seismic activity recorded since around 04:30. The eruption lasted about 5 minutes and produced a plume rising to about 7-8 km altitude and drifting NE and later SE. Ash fall occurred in Baños, Juive, Runtún, Pillate, San Juan and Cotaló. More ash eruptions have occurred over the following day and 3 small pyroclastic flows were reported. Authorities have raised the alert level to orange and opened emergency shelters for residents of the communities of Cusúa, Bilbao und Penipe located in the most vulnerable areas on the N and W flanks of the volcano. See more HERE.

New Strombolian Activity, New Paroxysm could be in the making at the Mount Etna Volcano in Italy.


New strombolian activity from the New SE crater has been observed from webcams, together with a fluctuating, but overall slightly rising tremor signal in the past hours. Whether this is the start of a new paroxysmal eruption will probably be clearer during the next hours or tomorrow. See more HERE.


MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Numerous Fish Die in Da Lat’s Iconic Lake in Vietnam!

A large number of dead fish have washed up with rubbish in the famed Ho Xuan Huong Lake of Da Lat’s tourist hotspot in the central highlands’ province, Lam Dong.


Many visitors complained that they could not stand the smell of the fish when they walked around the lake, near Ong Dao Bridge. Of the hundreds of dead fish, the biggest weighed around 0.7kg, a witness said. Some local photographers say that dead fish suddenly began showing up after Tet ( the Lunar New Year Holiday).

Le Xuan Tham, deputy director of Lam Dong’s Department of Science and Technology, says it is possible that the deceased fish did not live in the lake but originated from waters upstream. However, local residents say the wastewater from households and factories upstream is the culprit.

Since local authorities spent dozens of billions of dong on tackling water pollution in the lake in 2010, blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) has been spotted frequently and the lake has been filled with its unpleasant smell.

According to the department, they will chair a seminar with the participation of several local scientists in March to determine the cause of the phenomenon, as well as seek measures to wipe out the blue-green algae. - Tuoitre News.



WEATHER ANOMALIES: Unusually and Unseasonable Heavy Snow in Afghanistan - Driven Away by a War, Now Stalked by Winter’s Cold; Infants Die in Freezing Weather; the Coldest January in 20 Years!

Unusually heavy snow, and freezing temperatures mean more misery for Afghans displaced by fighting.

Children struggling through the snow in Afghanistan's weird weather.

The following children froze to death in Kabul over the past three weeks after their families had fled war zones in Afghanistan for refugee camps here:

• Mirwais, son of Hayatullah Haideri. He was 1 ½ years old and had just started to learn how to walk, holding unsteadily to the poles of the family tent before flopping onto the frozen ridges of the muddy floor.

• Abdul Hadi, son of Abdul Ghani. He was not even a year old and was already trying to stand, although his father said that during those last few days he seemed more shaky than normal.

• Naghma and Nazia, the twin daughters of Musa Jan. They were only 3 months old and just starting to roll over.

• Ismail, the son of Juma Gul. “He was never warm in his entire life,” Mr. Gul said. “Not once.”

It was a short life, 30 days long.

These children are among at least 22 who have died in the past month, a time of unseasonably fierce cold and snowstorms. The latest two victims died on Thursday. The deaths, which government officials have sought to suppress or play down, have prompted some soul-searching among aid workers here. After 10 years of a large international presence, comprising about 2,000 aid groups, at least $3.5 billion of humanitarian aid and $58 billion of development assistance, how could children be dying of something as predictable — and manageable — as the cold? “The fact that every year there’s winter shouldn’t come as a surprise,” said Federico Motka, whose German aid group, Welthungerhilfe, is one of the few at work in these camps, which aid workers call the Kabul informal settlements — since describing what they actually are, camps for displaced persons or war refugees, is politically sensitive. The Afghan government insists that the residents should and could return to their original homes; the residents say it is too dangerous for them to do so.

The deaths occurred at two of the largest camps, Charahi Qambar (8 cold-related deaths), and Nasaji Bagrami (14 such deaths). Both camps are populated largely with refugees who fled the fighting in areas like Helmand Province in the south. Some people have been in the camps for as long as seven years; others arrived in the past year. “There are 35,000 people in those camps in the middle of Kabul, with no heat or electricity in the middle of winter; that’s a humanitarian crisis,” said Michael Keating, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan. “I just don’t think the humanitarian story is sufficiently understood here. You’ve got a lot of people who really are in dire straits.” The United Nations and major relief groups last Saturday started what is called the Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal, asking donor groups and governments for $452 million in aid for the coming year, a 22 percent decrease from last year’s appeal of $582 million.

Far larger funds are separately available for development aid — nonemergency assistance to do things like build schools and infrastructure. For many of the displaced people in Kabul’s camps, however, international humanitarian policy subjects them to a pitiless Catch-22. The camps do not qualify for development aid because they are viewed as temporary facilities — and many Afghan officials oppose their presence. On a practical level, pouring aid into the camps would encourage people to stay in them, and perhaps draw more people there as well. On the other hand, because the camps have been in a state of “chronic emergency,” most aid donors view that as, by definition, no longer a humanitarian crisis. “People seem to think you can’t call it an emergency if it’s going on for 10 years,” said Julie Bara of Solidarités International, a French group that has had a limited program of emergency food aid and sanitation in the camps, “but in fact it is.”

Her organization surveyed mortality rates in the camps in recent months. Among children under 5, Ms. Bara said, the camps’ death rate is 144 per 1,000 children, stunningly high even for Afghanistan, which already has the world’s third highest infant mortality rate. That means that one out of every seven children in the Kabul camps will not survive until his or her sixth birthday. All of the 22 children known to have died were under 5. Normally, Kabul’s winters are mild for a city in a mountainous country, but not this year. It was the coldest January in 20 years, according to Mohammad Aslam Fayaz, deputy director of the national disaster office. Most nights, temperatures have been dropping below 20 degrees. “There is no clear strategy to help these people,” said Mohammad Yousef, the director general of Aschiana, a well-respected Afghan aid group that provides education and other services in 13 of the camps. “They don’t have access to anything — health, education, food, sanitation, water. They don’t even have an opportunity for survival.”

Woman sells socks on the streets of Kabul.
Aschiana provides four teachers to the Charahi Qambar camp, where they are the only regular humanitarian presence. Residents say there used to be food distributions by the World Food Program in the camp, but that stopped last year. A food program spokeswoman, Silke Buhr, said the agency currently provided food deliveries in Kabul only to vulnerable groups like widows and the disabled. In the worst-hit camps, even if the men can find work as day laborers or street peddlers, the pay is so scant that they have to choose between buying food or fuel, usually firewood. “You won’t die of hunger, but you will die of cold,” as one father put it.  When it comes to children, however, that is not strictly true. Poorly fed children are much more likely to succumb to hypothermia and disease. Last month, Kabul suffered two heavy snowstorms, on Jan. 15 and 22, which added wet conditions to the miseries of the camps’ residents, since their dwellings are tents or mud-wall shanties with canvas or plastic roofs.

The combination of damp and cold proved deadly. Mirwais’s father, Mr. Haideri, was awoken by the 5 a.m. call to prayer at the Charahi Qambar camp on Jan. 15 and found his son stiff as a board. “His color was dark, like when a leaf is frozen; you know it is frozen just by looking at it,” he said.  His wife and he have five surviving young children. “My wife keeps telling me, ‘You have to do something to save our other children, who will die in this cold,’ ” he said. “What can I do?” That same day in the same camp, Mr. Ghani found his son Abdul Hadi with a fever; when they called for an ambulance, the rescue workers refused to come. “They told me it was too cold,” he said. Abdul Hadi bedded down under a blanket with his mother, but there was no heat in their hut, and the mud under them was wet. When his parents tried to rouse him late that night, Mr. Ghani said, “He was frozen stiff.”

In the Nasaji Bagrami camp, where 14 deaths from cold were reported, according to a camp representative, Mohammad Ibrahim, there were two families that each lost two children. Born on the same day, the identical twins Naghma and Nazia died on the same night, Jan. 15-16. The children who died had been tucked up under blankets, sleeping with family members. But camp residents explained that what happens is that very small children are often physically unable to keep blankets pulled tightly around them, and are too young to ask for help. So if there is no fire and they fall asleep, they die. “Adults know how to keep warm, but the little ones do not,” said Mualavi Musafer, a mullah at the Charahi Qambar camp. His nephew was one of the children who died from the cold, he said.

Mohammad Ismail, a refugee from the Sangin district, one of the worst places in Helmand Province, also lost two children, one to the first snowstorm — his daughter Fawzia, 3 — and one to the second — his son, Janan, 5. Now he and his wife have two surviving children, a baby and their eldest child, 7-year-old Tila. “The whole night they cry because of the cold,” Mr. Ismail said. “Tila misses her brother especially.” Her brother and sister are buried without formal headstones in a patch of wasteland that has become the Nasaji Bagrami camp cemetery. Tila knows the place. “She goes there every day to see her brother,” her father said. - NY Times.

WATCH: Deaths as Kabul freezes over.





PANDEMIC OUTBREAK: Bird Flu Mutation Sparks Fears Of Deadly Pandemic, Could Wipe Out Half the World's Population - India Culls 20,000 Birds in Bhubaneswar; Dead Fowls Test Positive for Bird Flu in Nepal; High Alert Across Nearby Borders!

A group of US scientists warns that current research runs the risk of releasing a virus that could kill half the world's population.

At a public meeting at the New York Academy of Sciences on Thursday night, some of the country's leading virus experts debated the censorship of research into bird flu. Scientists are observing a 60-day moratorium on research into the virus, after two groups found a way to make it infectious by airborne transmission. An outbreak of this virus could be worse than the 1918 Spanish flu that killed tens of millions of people, warned Professor Michael Osterholm, who has led research into previous dangerous outbreaks. "Frankly, I don't want a virus out there that, even if it was 20 times less lethal, would still be the worst influenza pandemic in history," he said. Professor Osterholm is a member of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which in December asked the journals Science and Nature not to publish the full research on the virus.

Bird flu, or H5N1, has infected 600 people on official figures, mostly in south-east Asia, and killed more than half of those - though it is believed the true fatality rate is less as some may have caught the virus but not been hospitalised. It can currently only be caught by close exposure to infected birds. However, the new research demonstrated that the virus could be mutated, through genetic manipulation and other methods, into a form that was transmitted between ferrets in airborne droplets from coughs and sneezes. Ferrets are considered a good model for human-to-human virus transmission. The NSABB said this posed a big risk to the world. Professor Osterholm said one of the researchers, when he described his work at a conference, said he had done "something really, really stupid" in mutating the virus, describing it as a "very, very dangerous virus". "I wouldn't like to see smallpox get out of the lab, but if it did it wouldn't overly concern me," Professor Osterholm said. "We could contain it. The same thing is true with SARS. But influenza would scare the hell out of me, because it is the most notorious, the 'Lion King' of transmission."

Professor Arturo Casadevall, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was also on the NSABB board and said he had originally been against restricting research, but had been persuaded it was necessary. "If it is the worst-case scenario half the people you know will die, and half the people you don't know will die," he said. Professor Peter Palese, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said the moratorium on research should end. "All evidence we have now suggests H5N1 isn't easily transmitted to humans, and these experiments don't make it more likely," he said. "When do you stop being afraid?" Experts from around the world will meet in Geneva this month for World Health Organisation talks to assess the bird flu virus research. - SMH.

Bird Flu India: 20,000 birds culled in Bhubaneswar on first day.
The Animal Resources Development Department, along with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, on Sunday commenced the culling of poultry birds at the Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO) in Bhubaneswar following the advisory from the Union Agriculture Ministry to prevent the spread of the avian influenza (H5N1) virus. On the first day, an estimated 20,000 birds, including 11,955 chicks, were culled by four Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) at the CPDO, which has nearly 30,000 birds, according to official sources. The culling operation, which is being undertaken in a 3-km radius of the CPDO, particularly in and round 29 wards of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), is likely to continue for another three days.

In the second phase, the operation is likely to be carried out after due preparation on Monday at the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) poultry farm here, where the chicken population is around 10,000. In the third phase, the killing of domesticated chickens and ducks would be taken up in the individual households, particularly in the slums under the 29 wards, for which a door-to-door survey of the birds is being undertaken by six RRTs. The teams are also taking up sanitisation and sensitisation programmes as part of the surveillance activity to check spread of the avian flu. - Daily Pioneer.

Dead fowls test positive for bird flu, Nepal.
After the samples of dead chickens sent to London-based International Laboratory tested positive, bird flu was confirmed today in the fowls that died in Sunsari, Ilam and Panchthar districts. It has been confirmed that chickens at Khanar-based Pathivara Poultry, Itahari-based PK Poultry, Ilam’s Fakfok and Panchthar’s Faktep died due to bird flu. Officials at Sunsari Livestock Office said that H5N1 was detected in the samples of dead fowls sent to London-based International Laboratory for tests. Programme Director Dr Ramkrishna Khatiwada of Livestock Health Directorate Office Sunsari said they had sent the samples of dead fowls from Khanar and Itahari to London-based International Laboratory for tests 12 days ago and samples of dead chickens from Fakfok and Faktep some 18 days ago. London-based International Laboratory sent the test report today.

After the unconfirmed report of bird flu broke out, an Emergency Disease Investigation Team from the Central Livestock Disease Research Laboratory arrived in Sunsari yesterday. Dr Rajesh Yadav of CLDRL said they had collected information on symptoms, death rate, condition of poultry farms and their surroundings. A meeting of bird flu disease control technicians has decided to cull birds, fix four border points around the infected areas, and request locals and all other stakeholders to close shops, schools and markets in the emergency-declared area.

Morang on high alert

• Biratnagar Sub Metropolis, Morang District Livestock Office, Livestock Quarantine Check Post and Police Administration on high alert

• Special police team deployed to check bird flu import to Morang via Sunsari

• Over 100 crows have died due to an unknown disease at Motiharwa and Mills area in Biratnagar in the past one week

• Samples of the dead crows sent for tests to RONAST

• Jhapa District Livestock Office has urged the poultry farmers to inform the office if any chicken dies. - Himalayan Times.

EXTREME WEATHER: Snow Everywhere - Heavy Snowfall Pours on Kashmir as Severe Cold Wave Continues!

Kashmir Valley reeled under severe cold wave due to heavy snowfall which lead to cancellation of several flights.

Flights, which were scheduled to arrive at the Srinagar International Aiport early morning, were cancelled due to snow, but authorities were hopeful that air traffic would resume in the afternoon with improvement in weather conditions.

In terms of temperatures, Gulmarg, which saw more than 14 inches of snow since last night, was the coldest place in the Valley with a minimum temperature of minus 7.5 degrees Celsius. It received snowfall equivalent to 23.8mm rainfall, a MeT official said.

Srinagar, which was covered with a thin layer of fresh snow this morning, received snowfall and rainfall of 16.6 mm and recorded the minimum of minus 0.1 degrees Celsius, he said. South Kashmir's tourist resort of Pahalgam, which also received snowfall overnight, recorded 23.4 mm rainfall.

The gateway town to Kashmir valley, Qazigund, received 27.9 mm rainfall and north Kashmir's frontier town of Kupwara recorded 33.5 mm rainfall, he said. Leh town in the remote Ladakh region recorded night temperature of minus 7.4 degrees Celsius, he added. Night temperatures have improved in the Valley with Chillai Kalaan, or the 40-day harsh winter period, ending on the last day of January. - Indian Express.