Friday, March 29, 2013

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Landslide Buries 83 In Tibet Gold Mine Area - About 2 Million Cubic Meters Of Debris Swept Through The Area!

March 29, 2013 - TIBET - A massive landslide engulfed a gold mining area in mountainous Tibet, burying 83 workers believed to have been asleep early Friday morning, Chinese state media said. About 2 million cubic meters (2.6 million cubic yards) of mud, rock and debris swept through the area as the workers were resting and covered an area measuring around 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles), China Central Television said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the workers in Lhasa's Maizhokunggar county worked for a subsidiary of the China National Gold Group Corp., a state-owned enterprise and the country's largest gold producer. The disaster is likely to inflame critics of Chinese rule in Tibet who say Beijing's interests are driven by the region's mineral wealth and strategic position and come at the expense of the region's delicate ecosystem and Tibetans' Buddhist culture and traditional way of life.

The reports said at least two of the buried workers were Tibetan while most of the workers were believed to be ethnic Han Chinese, a reflection of how such large projects often create an influx of the majority ethnic group into the region.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, earthmovers remove rocks and mud on the scene where a landslide hit a mining area in Maizhokunggar County of Lhasa, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on Friday, March 29, 2013. The large landslide trapped dozens of workers in the gold mining area, state media reported. © Associated Press/Xinhua, Chogo

More than 1,000 police, firefighters, soldiers and medics have been deployed to the site, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) east of Lhasa, the regional capital. They conducted searches armed with devices to detect signs of life and accompanied by sniffer dogs, reports said.

Around 30 excavators were also digging away at the site late Friday as temperatures fell to just below freezing.

The reports said the landslide was caused by a "natural disaster" but did not provide specifics. It was unclear why the first news reports of the landslide came out several hours after it occurred.

China's recently appointed President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang ordered authorities to "spare no efforts" in their rescue work, Xinhua said.

County officials reached by phone confirmed the landslide but had no further details, saying that information reaching the main office was limited due to poor cellphone coverage at the site. Calls to the company's general phone line rang unanswered.

Doctors at the local county hospital said they had been told to prepare to receive survivors but none had arrived. "We were ordered to make all efforts to receive the injured," said a doctor who gave only her surname, Ge, in the hospital's emergency section.

Ge said the hospital transferred some of its patients to other facilities to increase the number of beds available and that 16 doctors were on duty.

Photo taken on March 30, 2013 shows the accident site after a major landslide hit a mining area of Tibet Huatailong Mining Development Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of the China National Gold Group Corporation, in Maizhokunggar County of Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. A total of 83 workers were buried in the landslide, which happened on Friday morning. Rescuers have not yet found survivors or bodies 28 hours after the massive landslide. (Xinhua/Zhang Quan).

The Chinese government has been encouraging development of mining and other industries in long-isolated Tibet as a way to promote its economic growth and raise living standards. The region has abundant deposits of copper, chromium, bauxite and other precious minerals and metals and is one of fast-growing China's last frontiers.

Tibet remains among China's poorest regions despite producing a large share of its minerals. A key source of anti-Chinese anger is complaints by local residents that they get little of the wealth extracted by government companies, most of which flows to distant Beijing.

In 2008, unhappiness with Chinese rule spilled over into deadly riots that engulfed Lhasa and an anti-government uprising that swept many Tibetan communities. To quell the unrest, Beijing poured security forces into Tibetan areas and has kept them there since, giving the western China region the feel of a military garrison and further alienating many Tibetans.

In recent years, more than 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest the stifling security presence and call for greater religious freedom. - Yahoo.

WATCH: Landslide Buries Dozens in Tibet.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 28-29, 2013 - Updates On El Hierro, Tolbachik, Paluweh, White Island, Colima, Fuego, San Cristobal, Masaya, Machin, Telica, Galeras, Nevado del Ruiz, Popocatépetl, Reventador And Dieng!

March 29, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Diffuse CO2 emission for El Hierro (INVOLCAN).

Current seismic signal (IGN).
El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain):  (March 28) The latest CO2 measurements show a significantly higher than normal level of gas emission, consistent with fresh magma arriving from deeper sources.

Another strong pulse of tremor and earthquakes (including a felt 3.8 magnitude event a short time ago) is in progress. The hypocenters of quakes have "dived" to 18-20 km depth, which could suggest a new batch of magma arriving from depth.

Location of this morning's M4.6 earthquake (IGN).

Seismic signal showing lots of strong quakes (including a M4.6 at 08:14) between 8-9am (IGN).

(March 29) Another large quake of magnitude 4.6, which was widely felt on the island, just occurred at 08:14 GMT at 18 km depth about 10 km west of the island under the seabed. The situation has not changed much. Pulsating tremor and strong earthquakes up to magnitudes 4.3 continued throughout the night and have intensified this morning. A further small migration towards the south can be noted. Most quakes remain in the layer at 18-20 km depth.  Deformation (uplift and eastwards displacement) continue as well, although at somewhat reduced rate, and has reached 12 cm in the parts of western El Hierro.

Map and location of recent quakes at El Hierro (IGN).

- Yesterday's earthquake count: total listed (greater than magnitude 1.4): 185,  greater than magnitude 3: 47
- Today so far: 24 (including 3 quakes over magnitude 4)

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): Volcanic tremor increased slightly and lava continues to effuse from the fissure vent and feed two main flow fields.

No changes were reported recently for the other volcanoes in Kamchatka: seismicity remains at a moderate level at both Sheveluch and Kizimen volcanoes (lava dome building), while Tolbachik's tremor overrides the seismic signals from Bezymianny, which also has been effusing its lava dome for years... [read more]

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The lava dome on the island remains very active with now more or less daily ash plumes observed rising to 10,000 ft (3 km) elevation,- sign that active dome growth continues along with associated rockfalls / pyroclastic flows and explosions / ash venting.

White Island (New Zealand): Volcanic tremor is continuous and at high levels. Strong steaming can be seen on the webcam.  GNS reported increased CO2 emission (1,950 tons/day on 03 March vs 2,400 tons/day on 26 March), which likely indicates influx of fresh magma at depth.

Today's seismic recording from Colima volcano (Soma station, Univ. Colima).

Colima (Western Mexico): Explosions and incandescent rockfalls sometimes forming small pyroclastic flows on the flanks of the volcano remain frequent. The rockfalls from the growing dome provide a spectacular show at night.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): (March 28) The current phase of elevated activity continues. Emissions of steam and gas and small to moderate explosions have risen to an average of 3 per hour and sometimes merged into continuous activity yesterday and today. Some of the stronger explosions ejected lava bombs to distances of 1 km from the crater and produced plumes of steam and ash rising up to 1.5 km. CENAPRED also recorded spasmodic tremor segments of high frequency and low amplitude.

Explosion during the night of March 28 from Popocatépetl.

(March 29) An increase in activity occurred last night from 20:05 h local time. Small to moderate explosions with ash emissions started to become more frequent. Incandescent tephra was thrown to up to 400-700 m distances onto the northern and northeastern slope of the volcano (see picture).  At 22:30 h, the number of explosions increased to become near continuous. Glowing bombs were ejected up to 700 m distance from the crater and an ash column drifted to the northeast. This process was accompanied by continuous volcanic tremor.

At the moment, the intensity of the eruption is decreasing again, and CENAPRED reports no significant changes in other monitored parameters. Similar peaks in activity have occurred several times since last year and still fall within the current status level of "Yellow Phase 2",- moderate emissions, sometimes with ash plumes and sporadic explosions with incandescent fragments thrown to a short distance from the crater.
Light ash fall is expected in the towns of Santiago Xalitzintla, San Nicolas de los Ranchos, San Andrés Calpan, Huejotzingo. (CENAPRED)

Explosion from Fuego volcano this morning (INSIVUMEH webcam).

Fuego (Guatemala): An increase in explosive activity is apparent from the volcano observatory's daily reports. For the past 24 hours between yesterday and today, 13 explosions (7 weak and 6 moderate in size) were reported with ash plume heights up to 1200 m above the crater. The plumes drifted 8-12 km to the west and southwest and caused light ash falls in the areas Panimaché I and II, Morelia and Santa Sofía.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua): A phase of stronger tremor has occurred today.

Masaya (Nicaragua): Volcanic tremor has been fluctuating between elevated levels (such as yesterday and this morning) and normal background levels to which is has decreased again now.

Machin (Colombia): Seismic activity remains elevated with frequent earthquake swarms. A probably shallow swarm occurred yesterday, but has now eased again. INGEOMINAS locates most volcanic-tectonic earthquakes in an area SE of the dome at depths between 3.5 - 8 km. No surface activity has been observed (yet).

Current seismogram from Telica volcano (TELN station INETER).

Telica (Nicaragua): The earthquake swarm continues with high amplitude but less frequent quakes.

Galeras (Colombia): During clear days, steaming and occasional weak ash venting (on 22 and 25 March) was observed. Seismic activity has shown a decreasing trend recently, INGEOMINAS reported. Most earthquakes detected at the volcano recently were related to internal fluid movements and of weak energy.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): No significant changes in activity have been reported in recent days. Small bursts of small volcanic-tectonic earthquakes, indicators of frequent small magma intrusions, continue to show up almost daily, and are clustered mostly in an area northeast and northwest of the Arenas crater at shallow depths between 0.5-8 km.  Strong degassing accompanies this process at the surface. A large SO2 plume was visible on yesterday's NOAA satellite data.

Reventador (Ecuador): A steam column was seen rising 1 km above the crater yesterday. Seismic activity remains alternating between periods of calm and bursts of tremor / explosion signals.

Dieng volcano (Central Java, Indonesia): VSI raised the alert level to the third highest level Siaga (3 out of 4), because significant changes were observed at the crater lake. The most spectacular was the change of the lake water color to dark brown on 24 March. In addition, a significant increase in CO2 concentration within 500 m from the Timbang crater was measured, from from 0.01% (by volume) in early March to 2.5% between 11 and 15 March. Also the emissions of the magmatic gas H2S increased. The now elevated gas concentrations are becoming a significant hazard (illustrated by a cat found suffocated by CO2). Therefore, it is strongly advised not to approach the Timbang crater within one kilometer to avoid the risk of suffocation due to the high CO2 concentrations (note that CO2 is absolutely odorless and lethal when inhaled in larger quantities).

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 28, 2013.

Photo of the Day:

Axel videotaping the action - Etna New SE crater paroxysm February 28th, 2013.  (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Photo of the Day:

Erupting Pu'u 'O'o vent, Kilauea volcano, Big Island, Hawaii (Photo: Janka).

- Volcano Discovery.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Coldest March In Sheffield, UK For Over A Century; March Set To Be Coldest In UK Since 1962; Germany Faces Coldest March Since 1883; Thousands Of Sheep Remain Buried In Snow In Northern Ireland; More Than 220 Rescued From Ice Floes Off Latvian Coast; Incredible North Atlantic Storm Spans Atlantic Ocean, Coast To Coast!

March 29, 2013 - EARTH - March was the coldest in Sheffield for more than a century, new statistics have revealed.  City residents are still shivering, gritting their paths and de-icing the car each morning despite the supposed start of spring. 

Spring snow hits Sheffield.

Coldest March In Sheffield, UK For Over A Century.
Now data compiled by the Museums Sheffield Weather Station at Weston Park shows we've had a right to grumble.  This month has in fact had the lowest monthly average March temperature since 1883 - and the second coldest average March temperature ever recorded.  The average temperature was a chilly 2.4C.  On the coldest day this month a minimum temperature of -4C was recorded.  This means 2013 has had the 31st coldest March minimum on record.  The maximum temperature recorded was only 9.3C, giving 2013 the lowest March maximum temperature since March 1996 and the second lowest monthly March maximum on record.  Piles of the white stuff also meant the city has also had the deepest March snow - with 21 centimetres falling - in over 30 years and the fourth deepest ever since regular recordings for this statistic began in the 1940s.  According to the weather station's records, over the last 50 years it has also snowed in March more often than it hasn't, about 60 per cent of the time.  The weather station has agreed to share its monthly data reports with Star readers each month.  Watch out for the next report in April. - The Star.

Germany Faces Coldest March Since 1883.
Complaining about the weather has reached epidemic proportions in northern Germany this "spring." And with good reason.

With Easter just around the corner, meteorologists are telling us this could end up being the coldest March in Berlin and its surroundings since records began in the 1880s. The poor Easter Bunny deserves our sympathy. Whereas in recent years he has grown used to dodging daffodils, lilies and tulips as he carries his cargo of eggs and chocolate to homes across northern Europe, this year the rabbit will find himself confronted with ice slicks, snow drifts and bundled up humans in foul moods.

© DPA.

Easter, after all, may be upon us. But spring weather most definitely is not. Biologists are warning that the Easter Bunny's wild brethren, European hares, are having trouble keeping their broods warm and healthy in the unseasonable chill. Meteorologists are keeping close tabs on thermometers to determine whether this March will go down as the coldest ever -- since records began in the 1880s. And wiseacres on the streets of Berlin have not yet tired of noting that Easter promises to be colder than last Christmas.

And it's not just the northern regions of Continental Europe where the Easter Bunny will encounter problems. Great Britain and Ireland are likewise suffering through unseasonable weather, with power outages threatening the roast lamb and snow drifts making hopping difficult. Russia and Ukraine are also suffering.

In northern Germany, the weather has been particularly notable for its persistent putrescence. Following a winter that broke all records for its lack of sunshine -- with just 91.2 hours of sunshine, total, from the beginning of December to the end of February -- the sun has in recent days emerged from behind the haze.

No Improvement in Sight

But it has not brought even a bit of warmth. High pressure system Jill and low pressure system Dieter have joined forces to torpedo an Easter full of the flowers and pastels we have come to expect. The average temperature in the northern German states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt has been minus 2 degrees Celsius (28.4 degrees Fahrenheit) this month. If Jack Frost doesn't head back to Siberia soon, this March could break the record established in 1883, two years after records began. For Germany as a whole, the month will likely end up as the coldest March in 25 years.

Surely, one might think, spring is just around the corner? Not so, say meteorologists. The Easter Bunny will find himself confronted with snow and sleet in northern Germany on Sunday. And there is no improvement in sight. - Spiegel.

March Set To Be Coldest In UK Since 1962.
Mean temperature for the month so far is 2.5C (36.5F) - three degrees below long-term average

This March is set to be the coldest in the UK since 1962, weather experts have said. Statistics from the Met Office showed that from 1 March to 26 March the UK mean temperature was 2.5C (36.5F), which is three degrees below the long-term average. This made it the joint fourth coldest in the UK, in records going back to 1910.

Piles of snow line a road near Colne, Lancashire: March 2013 is set to be joint fourth coldest in the UK, in records going back to 1910. © Jon Super/AP

The Met Office said this March was likely to be the fourth coldest on record for England, joint third coldest for Wales, joint eighth coldest for Scotland and sixth coldest for Northern Ireland. This March joined 2006, 2001, 1995, 1987, 1979, 1970 and 1962 as years when the month saw significant snowfall.

The coldest March in the UK was in 1962, at 1.9C (35.4F), followed by 1947, 2.2C (35.9F), 1937, 2.4C (36.3F), and 1916 and 1917, 2.5C (36.5F). The cold weather is expected to continue through the Easter weekend and into April, a spokesman said.

Full figures for the month will be available next week. - Guardian.

Thousands Of Sheep Remain Buried In Snow In Northern Ireland.
Tractors clear snow in Country Antrim.
Farmers in Northern Ireland are still unable to assess their losses a week after the big freeze hit.  Thousands of sheep are thought to have died after being buried in the snow in Counties Antrim and Down.  Snow drifts of up to 12 feet were reported in some areas with roads, hedges and gates completely submerged.   On Campbell Tweed's family farm in the Glens of Antrim, sheep remain buried in the snow across the 1,600-acre site.  Mr Tweed says he has no idea how many animals he has lost from his 4,000-strong flock.   He says he won't get a full picture until there is a complete thaw, and that could take until late next week.

 Lambing season has not started on the Tweed farm, so any sheep that were saved are heavily pregnant and the focus is now on keeping them comfortable and well fed.  On Tuesday an RAF Chinook helicopter was deployed from England to drop fodder in Northern Ireland where farmers were not able to get to their animals.  Irish military helicopters joined that rescue mission yesterday.   Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Executive has set up a relief package for farmers who have sustained heavy losses due to the adverse weather.  The Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has announced a fund which will help farmers pay for the collection and disposal of animals killed in the snow. 

Farmers managed to save some animals.

Ms O'Neill said: "There is potential for environmental impact, disease risks and reputational damage associated with dead animals not being collected and disposed of without delay which is why funding for the collection and disposal of fallen animals is an urgent need."  She has also said she plans to bring further proposals to the Northern Ireland Executive on a hardship payment scheme.  The scheme will help with the financial burden on affected farmers. It's thought the entire relief fund amounts to £5m.  The fund has been welcomed by the Ulster Farmers' Union. Its president Harry Sinclair has also praised the community spirit in the worst-affected areas.   He said: "The farming families directly affected by the crisis are working together to overcome the enormous problems created by the drifting snow.   "Their resilience is being tested to the limit and with no thaw in sight, the hardship they are facing is set to continue into next week." - SKY News.

More Than 220 Rescued From Ice Floes Off Latvian Coast.
More than 220 people have been rescued after two ice floes broke off from the Latvian coast and were blown into the Gulf of Riga, Latvian emergency services said Friday.  All 181 people on the larger floe near the capital city of Riga were removed by boat, and 42 people were rescued by helicopter from the smaller floe off the coast of Jurmala, a nearby seaside resort town.  One person remained for some time on the floe off Jurmala because he refused to be rescued by helicopter, emergency officials said.  That man told authorities he was waiting for a friend to pick him up in a plastic boat, according to the Baltic News Service. Eventually, rescuers helped both the stranded man and his friend on the boat return safely to shore.  The same report said that, once the rescue operation ended around 4:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. ET), one person was treated for possible frostbite.  The fire service earlier said that rough seas were complicating the rescue efforts by the Fire and Rescue Service, National Border Guard, Coast Guard and military officials.  Oil company manager Kaspars Skrabans said he was down at the beach by Jurmala with his family when he noticed that a crack had appeared in the ice extending from the shore out into the gulf.  He realized that nearly 50 people were on the ice that had become separated from the shore and being blown out to sea by the prevailing wind.  Some people were likely there to enjoy a walk on a sunny day, he told CNN, while others were ice fishers.  Temperatures were above freezing Friday in Riga, CNN forecaster Mari Ramos said. Ice is more likely to break off from shore as temperatures rise in spring. - CNN.

WATCH: Hundreds rescued off Latvia's coast.

Incredible North Atlantic Storm Spans Atlantic Ocean, Coast To Coast.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a storm this big before.


The storm shown here stretches west to east from Newfoundland to Portugal. Its southern tail (cold front) extends into the Caribbean and the north side of its comma head touches southern Greenland.

Not only is it big, but it's also super intense - comparable to many category 3 hurricanes. The storm's central pressure, as analyzed by the Ocean Prediction Center, is 953 mb. Estimated peak wave heights are around 25-30 feet.

© Ocean Prediction Center.

The storm is forecast to remain more or less stationary over the next few days before substantially weakening and then eventually drifting into western Europe in about a week as a rather ordinary weather system.

Note to Washingtonians: this is the same storm that blanketed the region with 1-4 inches of snow Monday. It's grown into a monster from humble beginnings. The storm's giant circulation has drawn down the cold and windy conditions we've had since it passed. - Washington Post.

It’s The Cold, Not Global Warming, That We Should Be Worried About.
A few months ago, a group of students in Oslo produced a brilliant spoof video that lampooned the charity pop song genre. It showed a group of young Africans coming together to raise money for those of us freezing in the north. "A lot of people aren't aware of what's going on there right now," says the African equivalent of Bob Geldof. "People don't ignore starving people, so why should we ignore cold people? Frostbite kills too. Africa: we need to make a difference." The song - Africa for Norway - has been watched online two million times, making it one of Europe's most popular political videos.

The aim was to send up the patronising, cliched way in which the West views Africa. Norway can afford to make the joke because there, people don't tend to die of the cold. In Britain, we still do. Each year, an official estimate is made of the "excess winter mortality" - that is, the number of people dying of cold-related illnesses. Last winter was relatively mild, and still 24,000 perished. The indications are that this winter, which has dragged on so long and with such brutality, will claim 30,000 lives, making it one of the biggest killers in the country. And still, no one seems upset.

Somewhere between the release of the 1984 Band Aid single and Al Gore's 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, political attention shifted away from such problems. The idea of people (especially old people) dying in their homes from conditions with which we are all familiar now seems relatively boring. Much political attention is still focused on global warming, and while schemes to help Britain prepare for the cold are being cut, the overseas aid budget is being vastly expanded. Saving elderly British lives has somehow become the least fashionable cause in politics.

Inconvenient suffering: the idea of people (especially old people) dying in their homes from weather conditions with which we are all familiar now seems relatively boring Photo: ALAMY

The reaction to the 2003 heatwave was extraordinary. It was blamed for 2,000 deaths, and taken as a warning that Britain was horribly unprepared for the coming era of snowless winters and barbecue summers. The government's chief scientific officer, Sir David King, later declared that climate change was "more serious even than the threat of terrorism" in terms of the number of lives that could be lost. Such language is never used about the cold, which kills at least 10 times as many people every winter. Before long, every political party had signed up to the green agenda.

Since Sir David's exhortations, some 250,000 Brits have died from the cold, and 10,000 from the heat. It is horribly clear that we have been focusing on the wrong enemy. Instead of making sure energy was affordable, ministers have been trying to make it more expensive, with carbon price floors and emissions trading schemes. Fuel prices have doubled over seven years, forcing millions to choose between heat and food - and government has found itself a major part of the problem.

This is slowly beginning to dawn on Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. He has tried to point the finger at energy companies, but his own department let the truth slip out in the small print of a report released on Wednesday. The average annual fuel bill is expected to have risen by £76 by 2020, it says. But take out Davey's hidden taxes (carbon price floor, emissions trading scheme, etc) and we'd be paying an average £123 less. His department has been trying to make homes cheaper to heat, and in a saner world this would be his only remit: to secure not the greenest energy, but the most affordable energy.

By now, the Energy Secretary will also have realised another inconvenient truth - that, for Britain, global warming is likely to save far more lives then it threatens. Delve deep enough into the Government's forecasts, and they speculate that global warming will lead to 6,000 fewer deaths a year, on average, by the end of the decade. This is the supposed threat facing us: children would be less likely to have snow to play in at Christmas, but more likely to have grandparents to visit over Easter. Not a bad trade-off. The greatest uncertainty is whether global warming, which has stalled since 1998, will arrive quickly enough to make a difference.

It's daft to draw any conclusions from this freakish, frozen spring. But in general, the computer-generated predictions do not seem as reliable as they did when Al Gore was using them to scare the bejesus out of us. A few weeks ago, scientists at the University of Washington found that man's contribution to global warming may have been exaggerated - by a factor of two. The natural cycle of heating and cooling, they discovered, plays a far bigger role than they had imagined. Mr Davey's fuel bill taxes may do nothing for the planet. But they will certainly lead to poorer, colder homes and shorter lives.

Our understanding of climate science may be weak, but our understanding of basic medicine is not. Low temperatures increase blood pressure and weaken the immune system, making everyone more vulnerable to bugs. For the elderly, this can be fatal. People don't actually die of frostbite, as the Norwegian video teasingly suggested. They die of flu, or thrombosis, or other conditions they would not have acquired if their house had been warmer. Far fewer Scandinavians die in winter, because they have worked out how to defeat the cold: keep the heating on; insulate houses. It really is that simple.

So what's stopping us? For years, various government schemes have sought to insulate lofts or upgrade boilers, but nowhere near quickly enough. When MPs looked into this three years ago, they heard from a Mr P of Cornwall. "The offer of a boiler is very much appreciated," he said. "We hope that we will still be alive when we get the visit about the end of February." With someone dying of the cold every seven minutes during winter, that may not have been a joke. The modest insulation scheme has been hit by cuts, while the mammoth winter fuel payment scheme continues untouched. The word "fuel" is, of course, redundant: it's a simple bung, paid to all pensioners - who are more likely to vote.

I once drank a winter fuel allowance. It had been paid to a self-made millionaire who was appalled that people like him were being written a cheque, and he had used it to buy a magnum of claret in protest. He was a major philanthropist, but wanted to make the point to his lunch guests: the winter fuel payment is a scandal, whose very existence suggests that government is not serious about helping people make it through winter.

No one would wear a wristband or pin on a ribbon for the elderly victims of the cold - and yet freezing weather kills more than diabetes or breast cancer. The cause of death is perhaps too familiar, and the remedy too obvious, to attract much attention. If the money for winter fuel payments was instead used to help insulate homes, we might - like Norway - be able to joke about winter. As things stand, dying of the cold remains a horribly British disease. - The Telegraph.

MASS BIRD/FISH DIE-OFF IN ENGLAND: Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In Lake Baffles Local Authority In Scarborough And Hundreds Of Seabirds Wash Up Dead Along Yorkshire Coast?!

March 29, 2013 - ENGLAND - It is feared that ongoing bad weather may be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of seabirds along the east coast.

Puffin RSPB: Picture supplied by Welcome To Yorkshire for its Easter supplement on March 30. To go with Page 2 and 3 Story 2 - Great Outdoors. Picture shows: Puffin RSPB Bempton. 

Hundreds Of Seabirds Wash Up Dead Along Yorkshire Coast.
The RSPB has received many reports of puffins, as well as razorbills and guillemots washing up on beaches on the Yorkshire coast, including at Bridlington.

The conservation charity believes severe weather may have led to birds struggling to find food or succumbing to exhaustion, although the exact causes are currently unknown.

Keith Clarkson, of the RSPB, said: “This may be the worst puffin ‘wreck’ we have seen for almost half a century.

“Despite their small stature puffins are fairly hardy birds, adept at coping with the harsh conditions of life at sea. So to hear that so many have been discovered dead is unusual and worrying.

“We are fast approaching the start of the seabird breeding season and tens of thousands of seabirds are returning to their colonies at Bempton Cliffs, Flamborough Head, Filey Cliffs and Coquet Island to raise their young.

“The recent events and poor body condition of the birds could have an impact on the success of this year’s puffin breeding season, a species already suffering population declines.

“The RSPB, with the help of volunteers, and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Centre will be closely monitoring the fortunes of this species and many other seabirds throughout the summer months.”

If you find any sick or injured seabirds on the beach please contact the RSPCA 0300 1234 999. If you find any dead birds seabirds can you email the details to the RSPB at,uk - Bridlington Free Press.

Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In Lake Baffles Local Authority In Scarborough.

An investigation has been launched by Scarborough Council after fish swimming in Peasholm Lake were mysteriously killed.

Council Environmental Service staff waded through the waters at the historic park last week to pluck the dead fish from the lake, which had been drained in order to complete essential maintenance work on the bandstand.

A source with ties to the Park claims that around 150 fish were killed – although the authority are still baffled by what has lead to the fish deaths.

The council is currently 
exploring a number of 
different theories as to the cause of the fatalities.

A possible theory is the deaths are attributable to a decrease in oxygen levels in the lake.

Another theory put forward has been that the unseasonably cold weather has caused the fish to simply ‘freeze to death’.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said that they are aware of the situation, and are working with Scarborough Council to get to the root of the problem.

Besides the dead fish, water samples were also taken from the lake for testing.

It’s understood that the lake had been drained by the council for the first time in around eight years, in order to carry out the work.

The number of fish affected are only believed to be a small percentage of aquatic life in the lake. - The Scarborough News.

DISASTER IMPACT: Fuk-U-Shima - The Post-Earthquake Fukushima Area In Japan Remains A Ghost Town!

March 29, 2013 - JAPAN - It's been over two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the nation's northeastern coast, devastating the population and creating a nuclear incident at the Fukushima power plant. Despite concentrated efforts to repair the damage though, there are still areas that remain vacant and almost untouched since – but that doesn't mean you can't still explore these places yourself. Google Maps recently added the evacuated town of Namie-machi to Street View as part of a larger project to document the destruction and restoration of areas affected by the earthquake.

Most haunting of all though are the images of certain areas that Google happened to already capture prior to the earthquake.

Most haunting of all though are the images of certain areas that Google happened to already capture prior to the earthquake, which can quickly be compared to recent photos for a "before and after" effect.

Google has been covering much more ground with Street View lately, taking users from towering mountain tops to deep underwater reefs, but the site of one of the most powerful natural disasters on record still seems like an unusual destination for the company's famous camera cars.

Google Maps recently added the site of one of the most powerful natural disasters on record to Street View.

The town's population of 21,000 people has been unable to return, leaving the area littered with collapsed buildings and wreckage left over from the tsunami.

Namie-machi was hit particularly hard by the earthquake and has remained practically a ghost town since it became part of the Fukushima exclusion zone due to radiation concerns.

Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie-machi, hopes that displaced former residents will be able to see the current state of the town as well as preserve some of its history before it is cleaned up.

Namie-machi was hit particularly hard by the earthquake and has remained practically a ghost town since it became part of the Fukushima exclusion zone due to radiation concerns. The town's population of 21,000 people has been unable to return, leaving the area littered with collapsed buildings and wreckage left over from the tsunami.

Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie-machi, hopes that capturing these 360-degree panoramas will allow the displaced former residents to see the current state of the town as well as preserve some of its history before it is cleaned up.

But Namie-machi is just one part of a much larger "Memories for the Future" project that Google has undertaken. The aim is to document as much of the affected areas as possible – from how they appeared before the earthquake to the current state of devastation and eventual restoration.

Namie-machi is just one part of a much larger "Memories for the Future" project that Google has undertaken, which aims to document as much of the affected areas as possible.

Google Maps recently added the evacuated town of Namie-machi to Street View as part of a larger project to document the damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Google has even gone so far as to record the damage done to individual buildings, both inside and out.

Namie-machi was hit particularly hard by the earthquake and has remained practically a ghost town since it became part of the Fukushima exclusion zone due to radiation concerns.

The company has reached out to people who lived in those areas to provide photographs and videos showing them as they were and has also uploaded thousands of miles worth of recent Street View images. Google has even gone so far as to record the damage done to individual buildings, both inside and out. The plan is to continue documenting buildings that are returned to working order as well as new structures that are constructed.

Most haunting of all though are the images of certain areas that Google happened to already capture prior to the earthquake, which can quickly be compared to the recent photos for a "before and after" effect. Save for a few landmarks, the images taken just a couple years apart are almost unrecognizable from each other.

If you'd like to explore some of the restricted areas of the Fukushima Prefecture yourself, you can head over to Google Maps and start looking around. - Gizmag.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: The California Mega-Quake - More Than 30 Massive Earthquake Safety Bolts on San Francisco’s Newly Redesigned Bay Bridge Fail?!

March 29, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The most expensive public works project in California history just got a little more so.

At least 32 massive seismic stabilizing bolts on San Francisco’s newly redesigned eastern span of the Bay Bridge failed during a stress test earlier this month, imperiling the structure’s Labor Day weekend grand opening.

Of the span’s 96 bolts, which range in length from 9 to 17 feet, 32 snapped when stress meant to simulate the lateral motion of a large earthquake was introduced.
William Hall/Caltrans District 4

Of the span’s 96 bolts, which range in length from 9 to 17 feet, 32 snapped when stress meant to simulate the lateral motion of a large earthquake was introduced, the Sacramento Bee reported.

"It appears to be a type of materials problem - the presence of hydrogen in the metal," Toll Bridge Program Manager Tony Anziano told the San Francisco Chronicle.

While the steel used on the deck sections of the bridge was imported from China, the faulty bolts were manufactured in the United States, Anziano said.

Now, California Department of Transportation officials are scrambling to craft a plan to inspect the remaining bolts, many of which are now encased in concrete, and retrofit those that have broken.

At a cost of $6.4 billion, the eastern span of the Bay Bridge is the largest public works project in California history. 
Tom Paiva Photography

"Time is absolutely tight," Anziano told the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Wednesday. “Everybody should acknowledge that there is risk" that the bridge will not open on time.

Damaged in 1989’s Loma Prieta earthquake, the erector set design of the old eastern span was scrapped by Caltrans officials.

“The Bay Bridge has to serve as a lifeline between San Francisco and the East Bay in the event of an earthquake,” Marwan Nader, the lead engineer for the bridge redesign, told the Daily News in February.

Work has begun on replacing at least 32 massive seismic stabilizing bolts on San Francisco’s newly redesigned eastern span of the Bay Bridge failed during a stress test earlier this month.
William Hall/Caltrans District 4

The cost of of replacing the structure has hit an unprecedented $6.4 billion, a figure that will only rise with the failure of the bolts.

"We have surmounted far greater engineering challenges than this one in getting this bridge constructed," Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said at Wednesday’s meeting. "And I have no doubt that we will get through this one as well." - NY Daily News.

WATCH: Dozens of New Bay Bridge Bolts Break During Testing.

DISASTER IMPACT: 5.8 Virginia Quake Caused $3 Million In Damage To Nation's 1st Cathedral!

March 29, 2013 - UNITED STATES - It took almost three years and $34 million to restore the Baltimore Basilica to the same condition that took shape during the War of 1812 and just a matter of seconds for a 5.8 magnitude earthquake to fracture its plastered arches.


"Inside and out, it looks like '06 when we walked away again,” said Project Superintendent George Wilk, “So it's bittersweet.  You don't know we were here, but that's the point of it."
Workers cleared out the last evidence of the repair work before the basilica was to throw open its doors for a mass this Holy Thursday.

While the cathedral is a national shrine and a historic landmark, Sean Caine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore says, first and foremost, it’s a church, and now it’s parishioners can return home.
"There are parishioners here whose church has been closed for the last seven months.  So they're ecstatic to be getting in back, and Easter is a time of renewal and rebirth and basically the church, itself, is being reborn again and renewed," said Caine.  
In the months following the earthquake dozens of cracks appeared including one structural fissure in the west main dome arch, but we’re told the building was never in imminent danger.
Insurance covered the$3 million repair bill.
"It covered all of it,” said Caine, “We had earthquake insurance, which not many people have or can believe, but we had several locations---about 50 of our churches actually suffered some type of damage during that earthquake.  This one being obviously the most extensive and high profile, but by the grace of God, insurance covered it."

There will be a grand re-opening along with an Easter Mass on Sunday.

The same quake damaged Washington’s National Cathedral and the Washington Monument. - ABC2News.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Disaster Precursors - Another Fish Kill On Adelaide's Beaches In Australia?!

March 29, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - MORE dead fish have washed up on Adelaide's southern beaches overnight.

Dead fish on Seaford beach . Picture: Roger Wyman Source: adelaidenow

The fish washed up at Seaford and Biosecurity SA is an attendance to collect fish for forensic testing.

It follows a similar incident last week when thousands of dead fish were found across long stretches of sand at Moana, Moana South, O'Sullivans Beach and Christies Beach.

Biosecurity SA aquatic pests manager Vic Neverauskas said high levels of algal bloom from hot weather had depleted oxygen levels in the water.

Dead fish on Seaford beach . Picture: Roger Wyman.

Dead fish on Seaford beach . Picture: Roger Wyman.

Dead fish on Seaford beach . Picture: Roger Wyman.

Mr Neverauskas said the incident was linked to the dead fish that washed up on Eyre Peninsula this month, with strong westerly winds blowing the algal bloom back towards Adelaide.

"The best information suggests we are dealing with extensive algal bloom from hot weather," he said.

He said the desalination plant had nothing to do with the fish deaths. - Adelaide Now.