Friday, October 4, 2013

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Hits The Mid-Indian Ridge!

October 04, 2013 - INDIAN OCEAN - According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) a strong earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale jolted the Mid-Indian Ridge at 17:26:17.0 UTC on Friday.

EMSC earthquake location.

The epicenter, with a depth of 33 km, was initially determined to be at 38.76 degrees south latitude and 78.48 degrees east longitude.

The tremor was at a distance of 2882 km southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius; 2964 km southeast of Saint-Denis, Reunion; and 3705 km southeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar.

EMSC earthquake location.

There is no listing of the earthquake on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) due to the current shutdown of the United States Federal Government. The USGS posted the following notice on its website:

Government Furlough
Due to a lapse in Federal funding, the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program has suspended most of its operations. While the USGS will continue to monitor and report on earthquake activity, the accuracy or timeliness of some earthquake information products, as well as the availability or functionality of some web pages, could be affected by our reduced level of operation.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) and NOAA's National Tsunami Warning Center also posted the following notice regarding its daily operations during the shutdown:

Due to the Federal Government shutdown, and most associated web sites are unavailable. However, because the information this site provides is necessary to protect life and property, it will be updated and maintained during the Federal Government shutdown.

However, both did indicate that no current warning, watch or advisory is in effect.

The Mid-Indian Ridge, is a submarine ridge of the Indian Ocean that is a direct continuance of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; both are segments of the worldwide midoceanic ridge system.

EMSC historical seismicity for the region.

Entering the Indian Ocean from the South Atlantic, the Mid-Indian Ridge extends north to a point near Rodrigues Island, where it divides into two parts: one segment continues northward toward the Gulf of Aden, where it connects with the East African Rift System; the second branch extends southeast toward the Macquarie Islands.

Between the Gulf of Aden and Rodrigues Island, the Mid-Indian Ridge bears the name Carlsberg Ridge. The ridge is associated with a belt of earthquake epicentres and, hence, is seismically active. This fact is further observed in its rough relief and thin sediment cover.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Chinese City Living In Fear Of Giant Killer Hornets - Swarms Of Highly Venomous Insects Have Killed 41 People In Just 3 Months!

October 04, 2013 - CHINA - Jonathan Kaiman visits Ankang municipality where swarms of highly venomous hornets have killed 41 people in three months.

Imagine getting stung 200 times by one of these. Chances are, you won't be, since these are queens,
but the run-of-the mill variety of Vespa mandarinia are also pretty terrifying. The average stinger
on a giant Asian hornet measures about a quarter-inch.

Chen pointed with a shaky hand at the small plot of cabbage, scallions and corn where his friend Yu Yihong was stung to death by giant hornets.

"When he got to the hospital, there were still two hornets in his trousers," says Chen, a local farmer who, like many villagers, declined to give his full name to a foreign journalist. "The hornets' poison was too strong – his liver and kidneys failed, and he couldn't urinate."

Yu, a square-jawed 40-year-old farmer in perfect health, had been harvesting his crops when he stepped on a nest of vespa mandarinia hornets concealed beneath a pile of dry corn husks. The hornets swarmed Yu, stinging him through his long-sleeve shirt and trousers. He ran, but the hornets chased him, stinging his arms and legs, his head and neck.

After Yu succumbed to his wounds and about 50 of his friends and relatives gathered to mourn his passing. Outside the farmer's mountainside home in Yuanba village, they ate preserved eggs, buckwheat noodles and boiled peanuts in silence; one set off a string of fireworks. Yu's wife and two children sat inside weeping.

Vespa mandarinia is the world's largest hornet, around the size of a human adult's thumb, yellow and black in colour and highly venomous. Their 6mm-long stingers carry a venom potent enough to dissolve human tissue. Victims may die of kidney failure or anaphylactic shock.

The hornets, also known as Vespa mandarinia, have reportedly chased victims for hundreds of meters...
and stung them countless times.

In 2013, cicada killer wasps were also spotted in the region.

Yu's story is a tragic but increasingly common one in north-west China's Shaanxi province where, over the past three months alone, hornets have killed 41 people and injured a further 1,675. Ankang, a municipality in the province's south, appears to be the epicentre of the scourge. While hornets infest its mountainous rural areas every year – 36 residents were stung to death between 2002 and 2005 – locals and municipal officials say this year is tantamount to an epidemic, the worst they have ever seen.

At least some of the deaths were caused by vespa mandarinia, experts say. The species does not typically attack unless it feels its nest is threatened. But when it does, it can be fierce and fast – the hornets can fly at 25 miles per hour and cover 50 miles in a day. They nest in tree stumps or underground, making nests extremely difficult to detect.

Both locals and experts blame this year's scourge on climate change; the past year has been unusually warm, allowing a high number of hornets to survive the winter. Huang Ronghui, an official at the Ankang Forestry Bureau's pest control department, lists a host of other possibilities: the hornets may have been agitated by a dry spell, while labourers have been moving deeper and deeper into the mountains, disturbing their nests. "Other than this, hornets are attracted to bright colours and the smell of peoples' sweat, alcohol and sweet things," he told state media. "They're sensitive to movement, such as running people or animals."

The region has also been overrun by the Asian hornet vespa velutina, a slightly smaller species which can be equally dangerous. Hundreds, even thousands inhabit their nests, which typically hang from high places. In Chengxing village, a few miles downhill from a winding mountain road from Yu's hometown, 16-year-old Tan Xingjian points at a tree in the distance. Hanging from one thick branch was a pale, basketball-sized bulb, its surface alive with darting black specks. "That's where they live," Tan says. "We don't dare to go near there."

Ankang is on alert, with the local authorities posting warning notices online, on roadside tree trunks and on primary school walls. The crisis has exhausted Gong Zhenghong, the spiky-haired mayor of Hongshan township in rural Ankang. Since September, Gong has spent nearly every night wandering the township exterminating nests with four other cadres. He says there are 248 hornet nests in Hongshan with 175 are close to schools and roads.

Gong and his team survey nests by day; once the sun sets, they dress in homemade anti-hornet suits made of rain jackets and canvass, and burn the nests with spray-can flamethrowers. "They don't fly around at night," he says.

Firefighters destroy dead hornets in Ankang, Shaanxi province, China.
Photograph: China Stringer Network/REUTERS

An Asian hornet (vespa mandarinia) eats a honeybee. The sting of the highly venomous giant hornet,
which measures about the size of a human thumb, can dissolve human tissue and cause kidney failure.
Photograph: Scott Camazine

Sometimes, his team begins work in the late evening and doesn't finish until 2am. "We'd normally send the fire squad to do this, but this year there were too many nests." Gong left his office, returned with a black rubbish bag, and pulled out the charred remains of a nest, the blackened tails of bulb-like larvae protruding from its combs.

Two other cities in Shaanxi – Hanzhong and Shangluo – have also been besieged by hornets, though the death tolls have been markedly lower. In southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a swarm of hornets attacked a primary school in mid-September, injuring 23 children and seven adults. The teacher, Li Zhiqiang, told pupils to hide under their desks and tried to fight the creatures off until he lost consciousness, state media reported.

WATCH:  Chinese city living in fear of giant killer hornets.

The hornets seem ubiquitous in Ankang. In Liushui township, a smattering of two-storey concrete homes sandwiched between a lush hillside and a stagnant river, an elderly shopkeeper in a purple blazer says that the hornets have infested a cabbage patch near her home. "The government has been coming down and burning them, but they can't burn them all," she adds, pointing down into the brush. "I'm not willing to go down there."

Mu Conghui, a 55-year-old Ankang villager, was stung 200 times while tending her rice field in late August. "These hornets are terrifying – all at once they flew to my head, and when I stopped, they stung me so much that I couldn't budge," she told state media. "My legs were crawling with hornets. Right now my legs are covered with small sting holes – over the past two months I've received 13 dialysis treatments."

The Ankang government says it has removed 710 hives and sent 7m yuan (£707,000) to help affected areas. "We're doing everything we can, but there's only so much we can do," says Deng Xianghong, the deputy head of the Ankang propaganda department. "God has been unfair to us." - Guardian.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Large Influx Of Electrons - Rare And Mysterious Red Auroras Spotted In The Skies Over Earth, Puzzling Experts!

October 04, 2013 - SPACE - On October 2nd, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field, sparking a G2-class geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers on both ends of the Earth saw auroras; many of the lights were rare shades of red. Minoru Yoneto photographed this example from Queenstown, New Zealand:

"This is how the sky looked 11 hours after the CME impact," says Yoneto, who used a Canon EOS 6D digital camera to record the reds.

Auroras are usually green, and sometimes purple, but seldom do sky watchers see this much red. Red auroras occur some 300 to 500 km above Earth's surface and are not yet fully understood. Some researchers believe the red lights are linked to a large influx of electrons. When low-energy electrons recombine with oxygen ions in the upper atmosphere, red photons are emitted. At present, space weather forecasters cannot predict when this will occur.

During the storm, even more red auroras were observed over the United States in places like Kansas, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Browse the gallery for examples. - Space Weather.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Yellowstone Supervolcano Alert - The Most Dangerous Volcano In America Is Roaring To Life!

October 04, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Right now, the ground underneath Yellowstone National Park is rising at a record rate.  In fact, it is rising at the rate of about three inches per year.  The reason why this is such a concern is because underneath the park sits the Yellowstone supervolcano – the largest volcano in North America.  Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that it will erupt again one day, and when it does the devastation will be almost unimaginable.  A full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away, and it would render much of the United States uninhabitable.  When most Americans think of Yellowstone, they tend to conjure up images of Yogi Bear and “Old Faithful”, but the truth is that sleeping underneath Yellowstone is a volcanic beast that could destroy our nation in a single day and now that beast is starting to wake up.

Yellowstone erupts in a scene from the 2009 American science fiction disaster film 2012.

The Yellowstone supervolcano is so vast that it is hard to put it into words.  According to the Daily Mail, the magma “hotspot” underneath Yellowstone is approximately 300 miles wide…
The Yellowstone Caldera is one of nature’s most awesome creations and sits atop North America’s largest volcanic field.

Its name means ‘cooking pot’ or ‘cauldron’ and it is formed when land collapses following a volcanic explosion.

In Yellowstone, some 400 miles beneath the Earth’s surface is a magma ‘hotspot’ which rises to 30 miles underground before spreading out over an area of 300 miles across.
Atop this, but still beneath the surface, sits the slumbering volcano.
When most Americans think of volcanic eruptions in the United States, they remember the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens back in 1980.  But that eruption would not even be worth comparing to a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano.

And now the area around Yellowstone is becoming increasingly seismically active.  In fact, Professor Bob Smith says that he has never seen anything like this in the 53 years that he has been watching Yellowstone
Until recently, Bob Smith had never witnessed two simultaneous earthquake swarms in his 53 years of monitoring seismic activity in and around the Yellowstone Caldera.

Now, Smith, a University of Utah geophysics professor, has seen three swarms at once.
In September, 130 earthquakes hit Yellowstone over the course of a single week.  This has got many Yellowstone observers extremely concerned
Yellowstone’s recent earthquake swarms started on Sept. 10 and were shaking until about 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16.

“A total of 130 earthquakes of magnitude 0.6 to 3.6 have occurred in these three areas, however, most have occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin,” a University of Utah statement said. “Notably much of seismicity in Yellowstone occurs as swarms.”
So what is the worst case scenario?

Well, according to the Daily Mail, a full-blown eruption of Yellowstone could leave two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable…
It would explode with a force a thousand times more powerful than the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980.

Spewing lava far into the sky, a cloud of plant-killing ash would fan out and dump a layer 10ft deep up to 1,000 miles away.

Two-thirds of the U.S. could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it, grounding thousands of flights and forcing millions to leave their homes.
Can you think of another potential disaster that could accomplish the same thing?

 That is why what is going on at Yellowstone right now is so important, and the American people deserve the truth.  The following are some more facts about Yellowstone that I compiled that I included in a previous article

A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could be up to 1,000 time more powerful than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would spew volcanic ash 25 miles up into the air.

The next eruption of Yellowstone seems to be getting closer with each passing year.  Since 2004, some areas of Yellowstone National Park have risen by as much as 10 inches.

There are approximately 3,000 earthquakes in the Yellowstone area every single year.

In the event of a full-scale eruption of Yellowstone, virtually the entire northwest United States will be completely destroyed.

A massive eruption of Yellowstone would mean that just about everything within a 100 mile radius of Yellowstone would be immediately killed.

A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could also potentially dump a layer of volcanic ash that is at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away.

A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would cover virtually the entire midwest United States with volcanic ash.  Food production in America would be almost totally wiped out.

The “volcanic winter” that a massive Yellowstone eruption would cause would radically cool the planet.  Some scientists believe that global temperatures would decline by up to 20 degrees.

America would never be the same again after a massive Yellowstone eruption.  Some scientists believe that a full eruption by Yellowstone would render two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable.

Scientists tell us that it is not a matter of “if” Yellowstone will erupt but rather “when” the next inevitable eruption will take place.

What makes all of this even more alarming is that a number of other very prominent volcanoes around the world are starting to roar back to life right now as well.

For example, an Inquisitr article from back in July described how “the most dangerous volcano in Mexico” is starting to become extremely active…
Popocatepetl Volcano is at it again. The active volcano near Mexico City erupted again this morning, spewing ash up into the sky.

The volcano is currently in the middle of an extremely active phase. According to the International Business Times, the volcano has registered 39 exhalations in the last 24 hours.

An eruption earlier this month caused several flights to be canceled in and out of Mexico City.

The BBC notes that officials raised the alert level yellow following Popocateptl’s eruption on Saturday morning. Yellow is the third-highest caution level on the city’s seven step scale.
And an NBC News article from August noted that one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Japan has erupted 500 times so far this year…
Ash wafted as high as 3 miles above the Sakurajima volcano in the southern city of Kagoshima on Sunday afternoon, forming its highest plume since the Japan Meteorological Agency started keeping records in 2006. Lava flowed just over half a mile from the fissure, and several huge volcanic rocks rolled down the mountainside.

Though the eruption was more massive than usual, residents of the city of about 600,000 are used to hearing from their 3,664-foot neighbor. Kagoshima officials said in a statement that this was Sakurajima’s 500th eruption this year alone.
So what does all of this mean?

Are we now entering a time when volcanic eruptions will become much more common all over the globe?
Could we rapidly be approaching the day when an absolutely devastating volcanic eruption will paralyze much of North America? - The American Dream.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Texas Brine Official Says Sinkhole Could Double In Size!

October 04, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Life in the community of Bayou Corne has been anything but normal since a giant sinkhole opened up. One official says the surface of the sinkhole could double in size. Right now, it is at 26 acres.

Mark Cartwright, president of United Brine, explaining nature of slough in at sinkhole.

Residents have moved away from the place they once called home. Their frustrations and fears still planted on their properties.

"We have a geoprobe in the front yard. We have a geoprobe in the backyard, very active," said resident Carla Alleman.

Alleman and her neighbors live just a couple thousand feet from the sinkhole. This is what is going on in their backyards more than a year after they were evacuated from their homes. Scientists are monitoring the site on foot and by air boat, keeping constant watch over the growing sinkhole.

"My husband and I struggle because we don't know where to go because this was it. This was it," said Candy Blanchard.

President of United Brine, a subsidiary of Texas Brine, Mark Cartwright, explains what it looked like more than a year ago, just hours after the sinkhole began growing.

"I got to the site within about five hours of when it actually developed and at that time it was about 300 feet in diameter," Cartwright said.

The sinkhole has grown into a large lake. Scientists are now working on containing the slurry as they continue to release gas from the aquifer.

"I think to the extent a sinkhole can be controlled we do have it under control," said Cartwright.

The sinkhole is at 26 acres right now. Cartwright says the surface could get to 50 acres but the good news is it is moving in a southwest pattern, which is away from homes and the community.

"I think we're relatively close to matching the volume inside the cavern with the volume we see at the surface. But because of precipitous edges, there will be come continued sloughing," said Cartwright.

Cartwright says while there has been no massive release of gas in the area, he admits the sinkhole event has caused additional discharge. However, he says he is confident the plan the community has put into motion will go offer some relief. As for the communities, he says their concerns have not gone unnoticed.

"I understand it. It's part of the situation and I would hope that soon those signs will come down and we'll get to some resolution - people can feel comfortable again," said Cartwright.

The majority of the homeowners who live in Bayou Corne have agreed to sell their properties to Texas Brine. The company says by the end of the week, they will close on 43 out of the 65 who have agreed to settle.

History of the sinkhole

The sinkhole opened up in August 2012 and was roughly 1/24 of the size it is now. The sinkhole formed when an underground salt cavern collapsed.

In the past, seismic activity is reported, then the sinkhole burps up debris and then a slough-in happens. Burps occur when air and gas from deep in the sinkhole bubbles up. It can cause debris and an oily substance to float to the top. A slough-in is when the sinkhole swallows trees and land that is on the edge of the sinkhole.

Berms were placed around the sinkhole shortly after it opened up to keep the oily, debris filled water contained to the sinkhole area so it would not contaminate the area bayous.

WATCH:  Texas Brine official says giant Louisiana sinkhole could double in size.

It has more than a year since hundreds living near the giant sinkhole were forced from their homes.

Bubbles were spotted in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou in June 2012. Two months later, the ground opened up and left what is now a 24-acre sinkhole. Residents were evacuated and the most affected residents began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week. Texas Brine owns the salt cavern that collapsed, causing the sinkhole.

On August 2, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced the state will be suing Texas Brine for environmental damages caused by the failed Texas Brine cavern.

Parish and Texas Brine officials agree the situation is far from over. 3D seismic surveys show the sinkhole itself it beginning to slow and stabilize, but the recovery is focused on another danger; natural gas gathering underneath a nearby aquifer. - WAFB.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For October 4, 2013 - Updates On Sakurajima, El Hierro, Bagana, Sinabung, Krakatau, Merapi, Dukono, White Island, Popocatépetl, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Fuego And Heard!

October 04, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe, courtesy of  Volcano Discovery.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The volcano is in a particularly active phase. During the past 2 days, about 20 vulcanian explosions occurred, many of which produced ash plumes reaching 10-13,000 ft (3-4 km) altitude.

Explosion from Sakurajima this morning (MBC webcam, from East).

Ash plume drifting over Kagoshima city (KYT-TV webcam).

A moderately large explosion occurred this morning at 12:03 local time, possibly generating a pyroclastic flow to the SW side of the Showa crater. An ash plume rose to 13,000 ft (4 km) altitude and drifted over the southern part of Kagoshima city, where ash fall occurred.

WATCH:  A similar explosion had already occurred the night before (at 04:33 local time):

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): A small earthquake swarm under the center of the island, at about 12 km depth, occurred on September 30.

Map of recent quakes at El Hierro.

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): Elevated SO2 emissions suggest that current activity is strong at the volcano.

SO2 plume from Bagana volcano (NOAA).

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): No more eruptions have occurred and the evacuated people (several 1000) were allowed to return to their homes.

Krakatau (Sunda Strait, Indonesia): Activity has been low during the past months, and it seems no eruptions have taken place since 28 or 29 of March this year. Activity currently consists of weak steaming / degassing.

Merapi (Central Java): Activity has been low during the past months. In the crater, a small but considerable area was covered by incandescent material caused by escaping hot gas, that made a "hissing" sound very notable to the ear, our friend Øystein Lund Andersen reports who climbed the volcano on September 29.

The crater of Merapi volcano (photo: Øystein).

"The area mentioned is the source of the small eruption that happened a few months back, according to a local volcano-guide." This (explosive) activity had left a small crater, maybe 20-30m deep, surrounded by blocks that had been ejected.
"Another area also emitted a glow, from the western part of the crater, as it did during my visit in May 2012".

Dukono (Halmahera): An ash plume (from an explosion) was observed this morning on satellite data, rising to about 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude and drifting 30 nautical miles to the NW.

White Island (New Zealand): Seismic activity has been steadily rising over the past week. This could (but not necessarily will) be a precursor for another episode of phreatic or hydrothermal explosions.

Steaming from White Island's crater

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has remained low with only weak emissions at averages of 1 every 1-2 hours. Occasionally, some ash explosions still occur, with plumes up to about 1 km height. Crater glow can still be seen at night and SO2 emission is strong, two indicators that magma continues to arrive at the summit (although at reduced rate).

Crater glow from Popocatépel this morning.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity has been essentially unchanged over the past week. Two moderate explosions were observed yesterday at 20:09 h and this morning at 05:12 (local times), with ash plumes rising almost 1 km and drifting SW. Ash falls were reported in the region of San Marcos Palajunoj.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Strombolian activity from the Mackenney crater has been gradually increasing over the past weeks, the latest report of INSIVUMEH shows. Activity is taking place from 3 vents and explosions occur at rates of one every 1-3 minutes with ejections reaching about 100 meters. The activity continues to build a new cone inside the crater which is visible from Cerro Chino.

Number of daily explosions from Pacaya as recorded by INSIVUMEH.

There are reports of ground vibrations produced by the volcano felt in the villages Calderas, San Francisco de Sales, and San Vicente Pacaya. INSIVUMEH has increased seismic monitoring using portable seismometers.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has been weak recently. The lava flows on the upper southern flank is still active, and was about 100 m long this morning, headed towards the Trinidad canyon. Explosions have been few and only produced ash plumes rising a few 100 meters.

Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): Another hot spot is visible on current satellite data, suggesting some sort of activity occurring at Dawson's Peak crater (perhaps a small lava lake or strombolian activity).

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for October 4, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: "Nightmarish Situation" - Italy Mourns 300 Dead In Lampedusa Migrant Boat Tragedy; Search Continues For More Than 200 Others!

October 04, 2013 - ITALY - Italy has declared a day of mourning for the 300 African migrants who died in a boat accident off the coast of Lampedusa, as rescuers told of a "nightmarish situation" as they fought to pull people from the water.

Body bags containing African migrants, who drowned trying to reach Italian shores, lie in the harbour of
Lampedusa October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Nino Randazzo/ASP press office/Handout via Reuters

 As the search continued for more than 200 people still missing off the Mediterranean island where their overloaded boat caught fire and sank, an emotional Pope Francis said Friday should be "a day of tears" for a "savage world" that ignored the plight of refugees.

Flags flew at half mast across Italy and schools held a minute of silence for the victims.

Locals on the island, which is closer to North Africa than to Italy and has a population of just 6,000, fought back tears as they spoke of the desperate rush to save the drowning immigrants.

"The hardest thing was seeing the bodies of the children. They had no chance," said local doctor Pietro Bartolo, who said in 20 years on the island he had "never seen a human tragedy like this".

Alessandro Marino, a shopkeeper on Lampedusa, spoke of seeing "a nightmarish situation" when he saw the scene from his boat. Rossella Manuci, a waitress who also came to the rescue, said: "For most of the poor souls, it was too late".

Rescued migrants arrive onboard a coastguard vessel at the harbour of Lampedusa October 3, 2013.
REUTERS/Nino Randazzo/ASP press office/Handout via Reuters

"They were drowning, it was like a scene from the Titanic," Sharanna Buonocorso, one of the first rescuers to reach the scene, told Corriere della Sera.

Raffaele Colapinto, a local fisherman who was one the first on the scene, said: "We saw a sea of heads. We took as many as we could on board."

There were also stories of survival such as a young Eritrean woman thought dead and laid out with other corpses before medical personnel realised she was still breathing and revived her.

Rescue teams have so far recovered 111 bodies and expect to find more than a hundred others in the submerged wreck, which is sunk in around 40 metres of water less than 1 km (0.6 miles) from the shore. Among the dead are at least three children and two pregnant women.

The accident happened when a fire broke out on board a boat packed with an estimated 500 Eritrean and Somali refugees as it neared the end of its journey from the Libyan coast and approached Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost scrap of territory.

The boat's engine stopped working and it began to take on water, prompting some of the passengers to burn a sheet in order to summon help from the island.

But that started a fire on board and terrified migrants rushed to one side of the 65ft-long boat, causing it to capsize about half a nautical mile off the coast.

Body bags containing African migrants, who drowned trying to reach Italian shores, lie in the harbour of
Lampedusa October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Nino Randazzo/ASP press office/Handout via Reuters

As they were recovered on Thursday, the bodies of the dead were covered in blue plastic sheeting and laid out along the quayside of the island's tiny port, as soldiers wearing protective face masks brought more corpses ashore and emergency officials sobbed with grief.

Angelino Alfano, the deputy prime minister, said Italy urgently needed assistance from Europe in dealing with the exodus of refugees and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East.

"This is not an Italian tragedy, this is a European tragedy," he said, speaking in Rome. "Lampedusa has to be considered the frontier of Europe, not the frontier of Italy."

He then flew to Lampedusa and shortly after arriving said: "I saw 93 bodies, a horrific sight that I never thought I would witness. It was a sight that offends the West, that offends the whole of Europe. We cannot remain inactive. We have to get control of this situation."

The tragedy underlined the dangers faced each year by the tens of thousands of desperate migrants and asylum seekers who flee war-torn and poverty-stricken countries in the hope of forging new lives in Europe.

The number of migrants has sharply increased since the Arab Spring of 2011 and the ensuing political chaos in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.

In the first six months of this year, nearly 8,000 migrants and asylum-seekers arrived in Italy, while 600 reached neighbouring Malta.

WATCH:  Italy boat disaster death toll climbs. 

Lampedusa, a speck of land covered in cactus and scrub with a single port and a string of white sand beaches, is where many of the migrants make for because it lies just 80 miles off the coast of Tunisia.

An estimated 13,500 have perished while trying to cross the Mediterranean since 1998, according to Fortress Europe, an internet blog that tracks the deaths.

Europe needed to "step up its efforts to prevent these tragedies and show solidarity both with migrants and with countries that are experiencing increasing migratory flows," said Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Commissioner for home affairs.

"We also need to intensify our efforts to fight criminal networks exploiting human despair so that they cannot continue to put people's lives at risk in small, overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels," she said.

On a visit to Lampedusa in July, Pope Francis, whose grandparents emigrated to Argentina from Piedmont in northern Italy before the Second World War, criticised what he called "globalised indifference" to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. - Telegraph.

MASS FISH DIE-OFFS: Latest Incidents In Brazil - Over 7,000 Fish Found Dead In A Lake In Silveira Martins And Hundreds Of Dead Fish Appear In The Capibaribe River?!

October 04, 2013 - BRAZIL - Here are two of the latest reports of mass fish die-offs in Brazil:

Over 7,000 Fish Found Dead In A Lake In Silveira Martins.
Second owner of the dam, seven thousand fish died in Silveira Martins
(Photo: Bernardo Bortolotto / RBS TV)

Thousands of fish were found dead in a pond on Thursday (3) in the locality of Line 2, in the municipality of Silveira Martins , in the Central Region of Rio Grande do Sul . Technicians from the city council were on site and collected samples of animals and also water. Samples will be sent to the Federal University of Santa Maria, which will do the analysis and find the cause of the destruction.

The suspect, according to the owner, which is a poison used on crops in the region has come into contact with the water of a pond community. This water, as the owner, ran up to her pond and would have caused the death of animals. About seven thousand fish have died poisoned, he says. - Globo. [Translated]

Hundreds Of Dead Fish Appear In The Capibaribe River.
Catfish died at low tide. Photo: Bruna Monteiro / DP / DA Press.

A shocking scene angered passersby near Rio Capibaribe at the time of Duarte Coelho Bridge on the morning of Tuesday. Hundreds of dead fish appeared on the river. The Department of Environment and Sustainability of Recife sent an inspection team to investigate the causes of mortality.

According to Lacerda oceanologist Assisi, dead fish are catfish and most likely reason, for now, is that the problem was caused by a reduction in oxygen levels in the water because of pollution. He adds that the phenomenon usually happens at low tide. - Diario de Pernambuco. [Translated]

WATCH:  Fish appear dead in Capibaribe.

STORM ALERT: Tropical Storm Karen - Hurricane Watches For U.S. Gulf Coast!

October 04, 2013 - GULF OF MEXICO - Tropical Storm Karen developed over the Yucatan Channel and the southern Gulf of Mexico Thursday morning, and is now tracking toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Hurricane watches continue in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Destin, Fla. These watches do not include metropolitan New Orleans.

Projected Path - The latest forecast path and wind speeds from the National Hurricane Center.

Current Information - So, where exactly is the cyclone's center located now? If you're plotting the storm along
with us, click on the "Current Information" map below to get the latitude/longitude coordinates, distance away
from the nearest land location, maximum sustained winds and central pressure (measured in millibars).

Satellite - How does the system look on satellite imagery. Click on "infrared" satellite imagery, to see how
"cold" the cloud tops are. Brighter orange and red shadings concentrated near the center of
circulation signify a healthy tropical cyclone.

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Watches/Warnings -  A tropical storm or hurricane watch means tropical storm
or hurricane conditions, respectively, are possible in the specified area within 48 hours. A tropical storm
or hurricane warning means tropical storm or hurricane conditions, respectively, are expected
in the specified area within 36 hours.

Tropical storm watches, however, do include metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Ponchartrain and Lake Maurepas, as well as the Gulf Coast from west of Grand Isle to Morgan City, La.

Tropical storm warnings are posted from Grand Isle, La. to the mouth of the Pearl River (La./Miss. border).

Karen will continue to move north, then take a northeast turn this weekend, with the center of circulation possibly brushing or making landfall first in southeast Louisiana, then making a second landfall to the east along the Gulf Coast of Alabama or the Florida Panhandle.

WATCH: Tropical Storm Karen on the move.

With that said, given wind shear in play, it remains to be seen whether Karen can strengthen to hurricane status. Thanks to that wind shear, the most significant impacts from Karen will be north and east of the center of circulation.

People in the watch and warning areas should be prepared for the following potential impacts:
  • Strong winds, particularly near the landfall point, although the exact location of landfall(s) is still rather uncertain.
  • Heavy rainfall of 3 inches or more and the potential for localized freshwater flooding, extending inland over the Southeast.
  • Storm surge resulting in coastal (saltwater) flooding near and to the east of the eventual landfall point. Water heights above ground could reach 3 to 5 feet in some areas.
- TWC.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: The Wreck - 8 Dead, 14 Hurt In Interstates 40 Bus Crash In East Tennessee!

October 04, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Eight people died when a bus carrying church members home blew a front tire, crossed the grassy median of Interstate 40 in eastern Tennessee, clipped an SUV and collided with a tractor-trailer before overturning, officials said Wednesday.

Six people on the eastbound bus were killed, along with one of three occupants of the SUV and the tractor-trailer driver, the Tennessee Highway Patrol said in a statement.

"We hope and pray that there will be no more," Sgt. Bill Miller told reporters Wednesday evening.

There were 18 people on the bus, which was from Statesville, North Carolina, officials said. It was carrying senior adults who attend Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville.

Fourteen people were injured, the highway patrol said.

WATCH: Tennessee bus crash leaves 8 dead

The wreck occurred about 2 p.m. in Jefferson County, about 40 miles east of Knoxville, said Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls. It was on Interstate 40 near the split with Interstate 81.

After the bus went out of control, it struck the westbound Chevrolet Tahoe and the tractor-trailer, officials said. The tractor-trailer caught fire.

Miller said eight of the injured were listed as critical, two as serious and four as stable at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Hospital spokeswoman Susan Wyatt said the church group was returning home from a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Dionne Stutts, wife of Front Street Baptist Senior Pastor Tim Stutts, said the church did not have specifics on anyone traveling on the bus.

The church group was on its way back to Statesville from the 17th annual Fall Jubilee preaching and singing conference in Gatlinburg, Stutts said.

Her husband was devastated by the news, Stutts said. He and the church youth minister were traveling to Tennessee.

Front Street Baptist, on its Facebook page, Wednesday evening thanked people for their prayers. "We know that God is in control and we need His comfort and peace," a post read.

A photo from CNN affiliate WVLT showed smoke rising from the scene and debris along the highway.

I-40 was closed, and traffic was being rerouted, according to state transportation officials. The scene is expected to be cleared early Thursday morning.

Investigators will look at the condition of the bus and check the driver's qualifications and driving history, according to Miller. - CNN.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Death Of Thousands Of Swallows In Oregon Blamed On Weather!

October 04, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Oregon scientists say thousands of swallows died during recent Willamette Valley rains, likely of starvation because the birds feed on insects while flying and they couldn't get out in the weather to feed.

Credit: Flickr: K Schneider.

Veterinarians said four days of steady rain and wind helped make September the wettest on record in the Valley. They came at a time when birds would have been feeding in preparation for winter migration to Central and South America.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says it got calls about dead and dying birds from residents ranging from the Port of Saint Helens on the Columbia River to Junction City north of Eugene. Groups of 10 to 200 barn and violet-green swallows were reported dead or dying in barns and other structures where they perch. - KGW.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Another Plane Crash - 16 Passengers Killed In Nigeria Plane Crash!

October 04, 2013 - NIGERIA - Sixteen people have been killed after a small passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off outside Lagos airport's domestic terminal, Nigerian authorities say.

Regular air crashes, such as one which occurred on Thursday, have given Nigeria a poor safety record [AP]

The aircraft, operated by Nigeria's Associated Airlines, came down in open ground on Thursday in the West African nation's commercial capital.

The aircraft appeared to make a manoeuvre to avoid a residential area, he said.

The Embraer 120 jet, a Brazilian make, was flying to Akure, a town about 225km east of Lagos, and came down just after 9:30am (0830 GMT), Stella Oduah, Nigeria's aviation minister, said in a statement.

The plane's flight recorder had been found and an investigation started into what caused the crash, she said.

Sixteen people were killed and four survived, Usman Muktar, commissioner of the Accident Investigation and

Onlookers gathered around the wreckage at Lagos Airport in Nigeria.

Prevention Bureau, said.

Manzo Ezekiel, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, told AFP that the plane crashed in
an area within the airport complex where fuel is stored.

Local media reported it was carrying the body of Olusegun Agagu, a former regional governor, and members of his family to his funeral.

Coffin in wreckage

A Reuters reporter saw emergency workers take a coffin out of the wreckage.

"The plane was making a lot of noise before it came down," Rasheed Olajide, an engineer at Lagos airport, told Reuters.

A diplomatic source told Reuters the engine was made by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a unit of United Technologies Corp, PW100.

WATCH: Charter plane crash-lands in Lagos with 20 on board.

According to the website, which keeps a record of passenger aircraft worldwide, the aircraft was more than 23 years old.

Embraer said it had offered to help authorities investigate the crash of the 30-seater plane.

Air crashes are relatively common in Nigeria, which despite having Africa's second-biggest economy, has a poor safety record.

In June last year, 163 people died when a Dana Air plane crashed into a Lagos apartment block in the country's worst airline disaster in two decades. - Aljazeera.