Thursday, October 31, 2013

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.6 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes North-Central Chile - Causing People To Run Out Into The Streets As Buildings Sway In The Capital!

October 31, 2013 - CHILE - A 6.6-magnitude earthquake rocked north-central Chile on Thursday, causing buildings to sway in the capital and nervous people to run out into the streets.

USGS earthquake location.

But Chile's emergency services office said no damages to infrastructure were reported and Chile's Navy discarded the possibility of a tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake's epicenter was located about 65 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of the city of Coquimbo or about 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Santiago. Its depth was 10 kilometers (6 miles).

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and the tsunami it unleashed in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

That quake was so strong it shortened the Earth's day slightly by changing the planet's rotation. The strongest earthquake ever recorded also happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people. - ABC News.

Seismotectonics of South America (Nazca Plate Region).
The South American arc extends over 7,000 km, from the Chilean margin triple junction offshore of southern Chile to its intersection with the Panama fracture zone, offshore of the southern coast of Panama in Central America. It marks the plate boundary between the subducting Nazca plate and the South America plate, where the oceanic crust and lithosphere of the Nazca plate begin their descent into the mantle beneath South America. The convergence associated with this subduction process is responsible for the uplift of the Andes Mountains, and for the active volcanic chain present along much of this deformation front. Relative to a fixed South America plate, the Nazca plate moves slightly north of eastwards at a rate varying from approximately 80 mm/yr in the south to approximately 65 mm/yr in the north. Although the rate of subduction varies little along the entire arc, there are complex changes in the geologic processes along the subduction zone that dramatically influence volcanic activity, crustal deformation, earthquake generation and occurrence all along the western edge of South America.

Most of the large earthquakes in South America are constrained to shallow depths of 0 to 70 km resulting from both crustal and interplate deformation. Crustal earthquakes result from deformation and mountain building in the overriding South America plate and generate earthquakes as deep as approximately 50 km. Interplate earthquakes occur due to slip along the dipping interface between the Nazca and the South American plates. Interplate earthquakes in this region are frequent and often large, and occur between the depths of approximately 10 and 60 km. Since 1900, numerous magnitude 8 or larger earthquakes have occurred on this subduction zone interface that were followed by devastating tsunamis, including the 1960 M9.5 earthquake in southern Chile, the largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world. Other notable shallow tsunami-generating earthquakes include the 1906 M8.5 earthquake near Esmeraldas, Ecuador, the 1922 M8.5 earthquake near Coquimbo, Chile, the 2001 M8.4 Arequipa, Peru earthquake, the 2007 M8.0 earthquake near Pisco, Peru, and the 2010 M8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake located just north of the 1960 event.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Large intermediate-depth earthquakes (those occurring between depths of approximately 70 and 300 km) are relatively limited in size and spatial extent in South America, and occur within the Nazca plate as a result of internal deformation within the subducting plate. These earthquakes generally cluster beneath northern Chile and southwestern Bolivia, and to a lesser extent beneath northern Peru and southern Ecuador, with depths between 110 and 130 km. Most of these earthquakes occur adjacent to the bend in the coastline between Peru and Chile. The most recent large intermediate-depth earthquake in this region was the 2005 M7.8 Tarapaca, Chile earthquake.

Earthquakes can also be generated to depths greater than 600 km as a result of continued internal deformation of the subducting Nazca plate. Deep-focus earthquakes in South America are not observed from a depth range of approximately 300 to 500 km. Instead, deep earthquakes in this region occur at depths of 500 to 650 km and are concentrated into two zones: one that runs beneath the Peru-Brazil border and another that extends from central Bolivia to central Argentina. These earthquakes generally do not exhibit large magnitudes. An exception to this was the 1994 Bolivian earthquake in northwestern Bolivia. This M8.2 earthquake occurred at a depth of 631 km, making it the largest deep-focus earthquake instrumentally recorded, and was felt widely throughout South and North America.

Subduction of the Nazca plate is geometrically complex and impacts the geology and seismicity of the western edge of South America. The intermediate-depth regions of the subducting Nazca plate can be segmented into five sections based on their angle of subduction beneath the South America plate. Three segments are characterized by steeply dipping subduction; the other two by near-horizontal subduction. The Nazca plate beneath northern Ecuador, southern Peru to northern Chile, and southern Chile descend into the mantle at angles of 25° to 30°. In contrast, the slab beneath southern Ecuador to central Peru, and under central Chile, is subducting at a shallow angle of approximately 10° or less. In these regions of “flat-slab” subduction, the Nazca plate moves horizontally for several hundred kilometers before continuing its descent into the mantle, and is shadowed by an extended zone of crustal seismicity in the overlying South America plate. Although the South America plate exhibits a chain of active volcanism resulting from the subduction and partial melting of the Nazca oceanic lithosphere along most of the arc, these regions of inferred shallow subduction correlate with an absence of volcanic activity. - USGS.

THE EURO-ZONE CRISIS: Precursors To The Total Collapse Of The FAILED White Supremacy Paradigm - Europe Has Just Released A Horrific Set Of Ugly Unemployment Statistics; The Euro-Zone Unemployment Was A Record High Of 12.2 Percent In September; Spain 26.6%, Italy 12.5%, Germany 5.2% And Youth Unemployment 24%; The Ranks Of The Jobless Swelled To Record 19.45 Million!

October 31, 2013 - EUROPE - The number of unemployed in the 17-nation eurozone reached a record high in September as the bloc's nascent recovery failed to generate jobs, official data showed Thursday.

The ranks of the jobless swelled by 60,000 to a record 19.45 million, according to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency. Though the unemployment rate remained steady at 12.2 percent, the previous month was revised up from 12 percent.

"The latest figures put a dent in hopes that the labor market may have reached a turning point," said analyst Ben May of Capital Economics.

A sharp and unexpected drop in inflation also cast doubts over the recovery of the eurozone, which just emerged from recession, and put pressure on the European Central Bank to act. The euro dropped sharply, from above $1.3700 before the news to about $1.3615 in afternoon trading.

By contrast, the Federal Reserve in the U.S. this week hinted it might start tightening its monetary policy in coming months as growth proves robust and the labor market improves.

Ernst & Young analyst Marie Diron said economic activity in the eurozone will remain slow and unemployment high until the bloc finishes cleaning up its banking sector to restore confidence and boost lending.

"A stable unemployment rate is as good as it gets for the eurozone in the current environment," she said. "Businesses are not yet confident enough about the growth outlook to switch to creating jobs."

The ECB has already cut its key interest rate to a record low to spur lending. But banks, companies and households are still too afraid to lend or borrow money.

The ECB may be pushed into action eventually if the inflation rate keeps dropping. Eurostat said the annual inflation rate fell to 0.7 percent in October from 1.1 percent a month earlier, marking its lowest level in about four years. The ECB is tasked with keeping inflation close to, but below 2 percent.

WATCH:Eurozone jobless hits fresh record high. 

"Latest developments reinforce our view that the ECB will end up cutting interest rates from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent sooner or later," said IHS Global Insight's analyst Howard Archer, adding the ECB might take such action as early as in December.

While other analysts think a rate decrease is unlikely in coming months _ not least because of resistance from powerful ECB players such as Germany's central bank _ the ECB still has other means at its disposal.

It can, among other things, provide more cheap loans to banks to improve their finances and encourage them to lend. It already issued such loans three times, helping stabilize the financial system, and ECB President Mario Draghi hinted several times in recent months that the central bank might consider issuing another round.

People wait in a queue to enter a government-run employment office in Madrid July 25, 2013.

A particularly gloomy stat was on youth unemployment _ it rose to 24.1 percent from 24 percent in August.

It was lowest in Germany and Austria, with 7.7 percent and 8.7 percent, and highest in Europe's southern economies, which have been hit hard by the debt crisis and government austerity measures. They were around 57 percent in Greece and 56 percent in Spain.

The overall unemployment rate showed similar disparities. Germany and Austria had low rates of 5 percent. By contrast, joblessness was 26.6 percent in Spain. In Greece, where the latest figures available were for July _ it stood at 27.6 percent.

The unemployment rate for the wider 28-nation European Union remained unchanged in September at 11 percent. - Breitbart.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "It Changes The Equation For Public Health, We Can Close All Markets In China And Still Have A Pandemic" - Study Reveals That Bat-To-Human Leap Likely For SARS-Like Virus!

October 31, 2013 - CHINA - A decade after SARS swept through the world and killed more than 750 people, scientists have made a troubling discovery: A very close cousin of the SARS virus lives in bats and it can likely jump directly to people.

The findings create new fears about the emergence of diseases like SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. The virus spread quickly from person to person in 2003 and had a mortality rate of at least 9%. Worries of a severe pandemic led the World Health Organization to issue an emergency travel advisory.

While bats have previously been fingered as a host for SARS, it was believed that the virus jumped from there to weasel-like mammals known as civets, where it went through genetic changes before infecting people. Operating on that belief, China cracked down on markets where bats, civets and other wildlife were sold for food.

The new bat-to-human discovery suggests that the control tactic may have limited effectiveness because a SARS-like virus remains loose in the wild and could potentially spark another outbreak.

"It changes the equation" for public health, said Peter Daszak, a senior author of the study and president of EcoHealth Alliance, a group involved in conservation and global health. "We can close all the markets in China and still have a pandemic."

The latest findings, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, may also help scientists grapple with a more immediate worry. About a year ago, a novel SARS-like virus was reported in the Middle East. It has since killed more than 50 people, and some preliminary research suggests that it also may have originated in bats.

A Chinese horseshoe bat. SARS-like coronaviruses were found in a colony of these animals in Yunnan province in
southwest China. Dr. Libiao Zhang, Guangdong Entomological Institute/South China Institute of Endangered Animals

SARS is caused by a germ known as a coronavirus. First discovered in 2003 in southern China, SARS went on to sicken more than 8,000 people in more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, before it was contained. No known cases have been reported anywhere since 2004.

But a key puzzle remained. No one ever found a live SARS virus in bats found in southern China's wildlife markets, making it unclear that those bats were the source. So where did it come from?

Dr. Daszak and his colleagues chose to study a horseshoe bat colony in Yunnan province in southwest China—hundreds of miles from the big wildlife-for-food markets of Guangdong province, where SARS was first reported. The researchers took hundreds of samples from the horseshoe bats. A genetic analysis revealed at least seven different strains of SARS-like coronaviruses circulating in that single group of animals.

Crucially, the scientists were also able to isolate and culture a live virus that binds to a receptor on a human cell. That suggests that direct bat-to-human infection would likely occur.

"This paper indicates that the bat is the origin and that the virus can be directly transmitted to humans," said Charles Calisher, a virologist at Colorado State University who wasn't involved in the study. "It practically rules out the possibility" of an intermediate host.

Dr. Daszak described a potential scenario where close contact between bats and humans—such as when the animals are captured for food—could increase the risk of viral transmission. "They are bringing wildlife in from new areas. They are going to Yunnan where bats are still common."

A decade after SARS swept through the world and killed more than 750 people, scientists have made a troubling
discovery: A very close cousin of the SARS virus lives in bats and it can likely jump directly to people.
Gautam Naik reports. Photo: AP.

Dr. Calisher said the finding was important because researchers will now be able to get clues about the danger these novel SARS-like coronaviruses pose. For example, if a bat carries a high load of the virus, it indicates that the potential for transmission to humans is also high.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has a project that tries to identify emerging infectious diseases that may pose a threat to human health. One target: bats. Not much is known about the flying mammals, because they are nocturnal and often hard to find. But there is strong evidence that bats are a natural reservoir for a host of dangerous viruses, including Ebola, Nipah and SARS.

WATCH: Scientists show Sars started in bats.

A year ago, scientists reported the emergence of a novel coronavirus, called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. It has since been reported in people in several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and other parts of the Persian Gulf. Oman reported its first case on Wednesday, according to local reports.

In July, a WHO committee concluded that while MERS was of "serious and great concern," it wasn't a global health emergency. Research has suggested local bats may be a host for MERS, though the findings aren't definitive.

Nonetheless, the authors of the Nature study noted that the outbreak in the Middle East "suggests that this group of viruses remains a key threat and that their distribution is wider than previously recognized." - WSJ.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Celestial Convergence - The Rare Hybrid Solar Eclipse On November 3rd, May Be Visible From Eastern North America To The Middle East!

October 31, 2013 - SPACE - The moon will blot out the sun Sunday (Nov. 3) in an eclipse that will be visible from eastern North America to the Middle East.

Phillip Calais took this image of a plane flying during a partial solar eclipse in early May 2013 from
Monument Hill in Fremantle, Australia. He took this photo using a Canon 40D with Canon
400 mm f5.6 lens and a 2x teleconverter. The photo was taken at 7:05 a.m. and the sun was
only about 1.4 degrees above the horizon.  Credit: Copyright Phillip Calais

Sunday's celestial event is a relatively rare occurrence known as a hybrid solar eclipse. It will begin as an annular or "ring of fire" eclipse along the path of totality, then shift to a total eclipse as the moon's shadow sweeps across our planet.

What you'll observe depends on where you live. Skywatchers in the eastern United States, northeastern South America, southern Europe, the Middle East and most of Africa will be treated to a partial solar eclipse, while people along the path of totality in central Africa will see the sun totally obscured by Earth's nearest neighbor for a few dramatic moments. 

If you live in eastern North America, you'll have to get up early to enjoy the show. The partial eclipse will be visible at sunrise — about 6:30 a.m. local time — and last for about 45 minutes, experts say. Viewers in Boston and New York will see the sun more than 50 percent covered by the moon, while our star will appear 47 percent obscured from Miami and Washington, D.C.

WATCH: Annular "Ring of Fire" Eclipse Caught From Australia.

All of the action in this part of the world will be occurring low in the sky, less than 8 degrees from the east-southeast horizon. (Your fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees.) So you'll want to find a spot that affords a good look at the horizon, without any buildings or hills blocking the view.

The path of totality, meanwhile, starts in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern U.S. and runs through Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and several other African nations before petering out in southern Ethiopia and Somalia around sunset.

The path of the hybrid solar eclipse of Nov. 3, 2013. Credit: Fred Espenak/NASA GSFC

Warning: If you are planning to watch Sunday's solar eclipse in person, be extremely careful. Never look directly at the sun, either with the naked eye or through telescopes or binoculars without proper filters. To safely view solar eclipses, you can buy special solar filters or No. 14 welder's glass to wear over your eyes. Standard sunglasses will NOT provide sufficient protection.

You can also build a simple pinhole camera, or look at the shadows filtering onto the ground through the leaves on a tree. (The spaces between leaves often create many natural pinholes). - SPACE.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: "Ecological Disaster" - Hundreds Of Dead Fish Found In A River In Trikala, Greece?!

October 31, 2013 - GREECE - Huge is the ecological disaster in the riverbed Enipeas the tile Trikala, as hundreds of fish have been found dead over the past 48 hours the old bridge, just 50 meters from the first houses of the village.

Residents are particularly concerned about the situation and call the relevant departments to take all necessary steps to resolve the problem. So far they have not identified the cause of infection. - Zougla. [Translated]

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Latest Happenings In Space - Sun Unleashes A M1.9 Solar Flare; CME Expected To Spark Polar Geomagnetic Storms On October 31st; High-Latitude Skywatchers Capture Stunning And Spooky Auroras; NASA's All-Sky Cameras Sees 34 Fireballs Intersecting With Earth Over The Last Four Days, 27 Sporadics; And There Are 1436 Potentially Hazard Asteroids To Earth!

October 31, 2013 - SPACE - Here are several stories of the latest happenings in space.

SOLAR FLARE ALERT: A moderate solar flare reaching M1.9 took place at 13:51 UTC Thursday morning. The flare was centered off the southwest limb near AR1877. 

Image by SDO.

WATCH: Attached video captures the eruption off the southwest limb this morning. Due to the location behind the limb, it is possible that the flare may have been somewhat stronger than the M1.9 detected by the GOES space craft.

CHANCE OF FLARES: Sunspot AR1884 has a complex magnetic field that harbors energy for strong eruptions, and it is almost directly facing Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of M-class solar flares and a 10% chance of X-flares on Oct. 31st. 

SPOOKY AURORAS: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Halloween. A CME is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 31st, possibly sparking polar geomagnetic storms. In northern Norway, the show got started early with this display on Oct. 30th:

"We witnessed a very powerful outburst of auroras with bright colours," says photographer Bjørn Jørgensen of Tromsø. And that was before the CME arrived...

As Oct. 31st begins, indicators still suggest a CME is approaching Earth. NOAA forecasters expect a G1-class geomagnetic storm when it arrives.

Ole Salomonsen in Norway also sent this great photo titled "creature" that he captured very early Halloween morning.

To view more from Ole, please visit him on Facebook at the following link.

Here is a great image captured last night by Robert Kucirek in Sweden. "Last night in Kassjo close to Umea in northern Sweden I took this photo. The local kp index was 6 and bz deeply south. Finally we saw northern lights after long periods of cloudy weather and low solar activity."

Image Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi, f/3.5, ISO-1600, Exposure 11 seconds.

FIREBALLS: Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.

On Oct. 28, 2013, the network reported 14 fireballs. (12 sporadics, 2 Orionids)

On Oct. 29, 2013, the network reported 18 fireballs. (13 sporadics, 5 Orionids)

On Oct. 31, 2013, the network reported 2 fireballs. (2 sporadics)

In these diagrams of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

NEAR-EARTH ASTEROIDS: Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.

On October 31, 2013 there were 1436 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Heads up. Keep your eyes on the sky.

SOURCES: Solar Ham | NOAA/SWPC | Space Weather.

DISASTER IMPACT: Death Toll Climbs To 218 In Philippines Earthquake - Total Cost Of Damage Amounts To P2.2 BILLION DOLLARS!

October 31, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - THE CASUALTIES in areas hit by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake rose to 218 yesterday after three more bodies were retrieved in Bohol, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported.

Based on the same report, the number of injured individuals climbed to 768 yesterday, from 760 on Monday.

People walk along a damaged road in the province of Bohol after a magnitude-7.2 earthquake
hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, October 15.

The NDRRMC said three bridges and two roads remain damaged in the provinces of Bohol, Cebu and Negros Occidental.

The power supply in the municipalities of Antequera, Calape, Catigbian, Cortes, Inabanga, Loon, San Isidro, and Tubigon, all in Bohol is yet to be fully restored.

Total cost of damage remains at P2.2 billion worth of roads, bridges, flood control, schoolbuildings, hospitals and other public buildings.

The same NDRRMC report noted that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has opened 367 evacuation centers and is serving more than 300,000 displaced families in evacuation centers.

WATCH: Initial reports and scenes from the Philippine earthquake.

The NDRRMC said the total cost of assistance provided by the DSWD, the Department of Health, local government units and nongovernment organizations to the victims in the affected areas of Bohol has already reached P52.6 million.

A crane sifts through the rubble of Our Lady of Assumption Parish Church in Dauis on October 15.

Earthquake victims receive care in the parking lot of a government hospital in Cebu on October 15.

The Church of San Pedro in Loboc appears to be heavily damaged after the quake on October 15.

Cars lie under rubble outside the GMC Plaza Building in Cebu on October 15.

People gather outside damaged buildings in Cebu on October 15.

Rescuers pull a man from the rubble in Cebu on October 15.

Meanwhile, several members of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines gathered from across the country in Bohol to aid the government in the rescue and relief operations in the earthquake-ravaged province.

Teams from the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association, Bohol Limestone Corp., Carmen Copper Corp. of Cebu, OceanaGold Philippines from Nueva Vizcaya, Philex Mining Corp. from Benguet and Philsaga Mining Corp. from Davao, among others, reached Tagbilaran City and immediately coordinated with local authorities to help in the assessment and possible rescue and retrieval operations including road clearing.

WATCH: Devastating - Video of church crumbling as deadly earthquake hits Philippines. 

The miners also gave equipment, generator sets, first aid kits and other materials for the rescue and relief efforts. - Business World Online.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: "Most Horrible Thing I Have Ever Seen" - 92 Niger Migrants Found Dead Of Thirst In The Sahara Desert; Attempting To Cross Desert On Foot To Reach Algeria From Impoverished, Landlocked Niger!

October 31, 2013 - SAHARA DESERT - The bodies of 92 people, almost all women and children, have been found in the Sahara desert. They died of thirst after their vehicle broke down during an attempt to reach Algeria from impoverished west African country Niger.

An aid worker at the scene in Niger – the vast, landlocked country that straddles the desert between north and sub-Saharan Africa – told the Guardian that the scene was traumatic as rescuers discovered the bodies scattered in small groups around the desert.

Sahara desert is a well-known traffickers’ route, with people ending up in Algeria seeking work.
Photograph: Frans Lemmens/Getty Images

"This is extremely difficult and the most horrible thing I have ever seen," said Almoustapha Alhacen, a resident in Arlit, a uranium mining town 50 miles from the scene, who is part of the rescue effort. "These are women and children; they were abandoned and left to die."

"We found them scattered over a large area, in small groups. Some were lying under trees, others exposed to the sun. Sometimes we found a mother and her children, some of the bodies were children alone."

"They were left there for so long that their bodies are decomposed. Some of the bodies are still there."

The group was discovered after survivors reached Arlit on foot. Local experts say that the group are victims of human trafficking and are believed to have died two weeks ago as they attempted to walk 12 miles in scorching sun to reach a well after the lorry they were travelling in broke down, leaving them stranded.

Sources in Niger said that the group – who began their perilous journey across the desert in late September – comprised local people from Zinder, the second largest city in southern Niger, close to the border with Nigeria.

"We think that all these people are from the villages around Zinder," said Alhacen. "But until the investigation is finished, we cannot know all the details."

"It is very common for migrants to travel through this part of Niger," Alhacen added. "We have people from Nigeria and Burkina Faso, as well as people from Niger. They are trying to reach Libya and Algeria."

One security expert said that the group were not economic migrants, but victims of trafficking.

"This was in fact a case of poor people and children who were being trafficked to Algeria," said Moussa Akfar, a security expert based in Niamey, Niger's capital. "There is an inquiry under way but we know that this was trafficking because economic migrants go to Libya – in Libya you find people of all nationalities – from Nigeria, Cameroon and other countries, heading to Europe.

"In this case all the victims were Nigerien from Zinder, and they were being trafficked. The questions that have to be asked now is how officials on road checkpoints did not alert the authorities about this group. There is endemic corruption at work."

Details are still emerging about what happened to the group. The discovery of the 92 – including 32 women and 48 children – comes after a further 35 bodies were found earlier this week.

The two discoveries are believed to be part of the same group of migrants, who were travelling northwards in two lorries in an attempt to reach Algeria.

They died in October, only six miles from the border between Niger and Algeria, after one of their two vehicles broke down and left them stranded as it headed off looking for new parts.

Niger security sources told the local press that 21 had survived, including two who had walked across the desert to Arlit, the nearest town, and site of a plant for French nuclear giant Areva.

A further 19 who continued on their journey to Algeria and reached the town of Tamaresset in southern Algeria were turned away and repatriated back to Niger, local press reported.

The route across Niger's desert – often starting in the southern town of Zinder, then travelling through desert town Agadez – is a well-known traffickers' route for taking people to North Africa, where some try to board boats to Europe, with others ending up in Algeria seeking work.

"Zinder and Agadez, these are the main migrant routes, as well as human trafficking routes in Niger," said Johnson Bien-Aime from Plan Niger. "We know that trafficking is happening every day in these areas, but unfortunately, until now, nothing has been done about it."

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been rocked by repeated food crises in recent years. Last year aid group Save The Children said Niger was the worst place in the world to be a mother amid warnings that continuing poverty levels are driving people to undertake life-threatening journeys to higher income nations.

While many in Niger say that the incident was trafficking with Algeria as the intended destination, Rhissa Feltou, the mayor of Arlit, stated that the group may have been attempting to reach Europe.

"They were probably heading to the Mediterranean to try to go to Europe, or else to Algeria to work," said Feltou.

Local rescue workers who found the bodies have said the group may have included a party from an Islamic madrasa school, given the large number of children and an elderly man among the victims who appears to be an Islamic teacher.

The plight of migrants from Africa and the Middle East is increasingly under the spotlight after a series of tragedies in which large numbers have died attempting to reach Europe, including 365 who died in Lampedusa earlier this month when a boat capsized near the Italian island.

Tens of thousands of west African migrants, many of whom have paid as much as $3,000 to be taken across the desert from Niger to North Africa, arrive in Europe by sea each year, according to the United Nations.

"Sadly this is a typical migration that has been going on over last number of years," said John Ging from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"We estimate that 80,000 make that journey every year from the Sahara to Niger, and basically they are economic migrants so impoverished they have to make these hazardous journeys." - The Guardian.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Over 6,000 Poultry Dead From Bird Flu In East Lampung, Indonesia!

October 31, 2013 - INDONESIA - Until the last weekend of October, thousands of birds die in East Lampung District, Lampung. Allegedly, it is a result of deaths of poultry infected with bird flu.


"Greater East Lampung for this is known as one of the areas in Lampung province is quite vulnerable to bird flu," said Head of Animal Health Animal Husbandry Department of East Lampung, Morrow, Saturday (26/10/2013).

Morrow said, at the beginning of last July, the bird flu virus (H5N1) detected the sudden and deadly race around 6,000 chickens in the poultry belonging to the group Tanjungkesuma Village, District Purbolinggo.

"Then at the end of September, approximately 14 chickens owned by residents Jayaasri Village, District Metrokibang also suspected of having died of bird flu," he explained.

Then, in mid-October, a deadly virus is deadly avian animal species approximately 440 chickens owned by a group of poultry in the village Tambahluhur, District Purbolinggo. Until last week, there were no less than 6,454 dead chickens owned by residents.

Morrow added, it appealed to the poultry farmers and residents of East Lampung to raise awareness of bird flu is very dangerous considering as easily transmitted to both the poultry and humans.

"The farmers are expected to be proactive and immediately report to the nearest farm workers or directly contact the relevant parties that have livestock poultry died suddenly," he said.

Morrow said, farmers can immediately contact the Rapid Response Team Handling, Control, and Eradication of Avian Influenza East Lampung Husbandry Department through a number 08,127,200,070. "Residents are also asked to be careful and processing of foods made ​​from poultry," he concluded. - Okezone. [Translated]

PLANETARY TREMORS: Study Cautions That Canada Is Not Prepared For A Major Earthquake - The Disaster Impact Cost Would Be Massive!

October 31, 2013 - CANADA - There would be significant losses if modelled scenarios involving a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the west coast of Vancouver Island and a 7.1-magnitude quake about 100 km northeast of Quebec City came to be, demonstrating the need for a national strategy on earthquake response, suggests a new report by AIR Worldwide.

Significant historic earthquakes in Canada (Insurance Bureau of Canada)

The catastrophe modelling firm was commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) to analyze the impact of two major seismic events. AIR Worldwide developed the western and eastern scenarios, estimating total economic loss and insured loss for both. The report, Study of Impact and the Insurance and Economic Cost of a Major Earthquake in British Columbia and Ontario/Quebec, was released Tuesday.
The two selected regions are at particular risk as a result of their large population density and elevated level of seismic activity, states the report. “Although these two seismic source zones cover only a small fraction of Canada by area, they impact about 40% of the national population.”

Both scenarios are attributable to established seismic sources and similar to earthquakes known to have taken place in the past, the report notes. “Earthquakes of the magnitude modelled are low-frequency events in these locations, considered to have a 0.2% probability of occurring in any one year, but sufficiently threatening and devastating to warrant prudent planning and preparation now.”

Shake Hazard map of B.C.'s Cascadia subduction zone (Insurance Bureau of Canada)

The findings of the peer-reviewed analysis leave “no doubt that Canada is not prepared to handle a major earthquake, which could happen at any time, and that the economic impact would be significant,” notes a statement from IBC.

In its report, AIR Worldwide explains the study is a hypothetical exercise rather than a prediction of future events. That said, the impact of the events and their projected loss costs can be seen as good indicators for the likely outcome of similar events, the company adds.

AIR Worldwide notes that for the western scenario, economic losses would be about $74.7 billion and insured losses would be approximately $20.4 billion; for the eastern scenario, those losses would be approximately $60.6 billion and about $12.2 billion, respectively.

The breakdown for insured losses in both scenarios by peril are as follows:
western scenario – shake, about $17.1 billion; tsunami, approximately $1.1 billion; fire following the event, $337 million; and liquefaction and landslide, about $1.9 billion.
eastern scenario – shake, about $11.5 billion; fire following event, approximately $628 million; and liquefaction and landslide, $56 million.

With regard to expected economic losses, for the western scenario, the perils of shake, tsunami, fire following event and liquefaction and landslide would produce direct loss of about $58.6 billion for property, about $1.9 billion for infrastructure and about $1.5 billion for public assets. The total direct loss would be $62 billion, while indirect loss is pegged at about $12.7 billion.

For the eastern scenario, the perils of shake, fire following event and liquefaction and landslide would produce direct loss of about $45.9 billion for property, almost $2.0 billion for infrastructure and about $1.4 billion for public assets. The total direct loss would be approximately $49.3 billion, while indirect losses are pegged at about $11.3 billion.

“The risk of a major earthquake affects us all, not just those living in high-risk areas,” IBC president and CEO Don Forgeron says in a statement. “Events of this magnitude have a domino effect on the Canadian economy triggered by property damage, supply chain interruption, loss of services, infrastructure failure and business interruption,” he explains.

Consider some of the specifics with regard to the western scenario. In this scenario, the 9.0-magnitude quake would occur at a shallow depth of 11 km in the Cascadia subduction zone on a weekday in late July, with the epicentre in the Pacific Ocean about 75 km off the coast of B.C. That quake would be felt over much of B.C. and Washington state.

The scenario suggests the following damage:
• Vancouver Island – considerable damage to ordinary buildings in areas with the most violent ground motion, and severe damage to poorly built structures; widespread damage to chimneys and some partial collapse of some unreinforced masonry buildings; Victoria damaged by fires following the quake and significant damage from tsunami and landslide to some residential buildings near Esquimalt; substantial landslide damage in the northern part of Victoria; light to moderate damage to commercial and industrial buildings; low to moderate levels of damage to Victoria International Airport, but no major service disruption; moderate damage to components of the Port of Victoria; severe shaking and ground failure in Port Alberni; and severe damage as a result of shaking and tsunami inundation to Nanaimo, located on the east coast of the island. “The extent of the damage anticipated is so large that the port may be out of use for many months.”

City of Vancouver – light damage to low-rise and some mid-rise residential buildings, and commercial and industrial buildings; tsunami-related losses to commercial and industrial property in coastal areas around the University of British Columbia, with business interruption in this vicinity perhaps as long as several weeks; moderate damage (partly attributed to liquefaction) to mid-rise commercial buildings in the south of New Westminster and north of Surrey and Delta; large damage to buildings of eight storeys or more in these areas, particularly losses to contents; substantial tsunami damage to some residential buildings in west Richmond and near the Fraser River; and substantial tsunami damage to commercial buildings in southern areas. “As a result of ground shaking and liquefaction, some roads will be damaged and impassable, water supply and other buried services will be compromised and many bridges will be closed temporarily.”

“Insurers, governments and all Canadians have a responsibility to prepare,” Forgeron emphasizes. “If a mega-earthquake should strike in a densely populated area, insurance alone will not pay for all the damage.”
That said, study findings demonstrate that mitigation – such as more resilient buildings and infrastructure – “can further reduce economic losses by a third or more. That’s why we are calling for an integrated preparatory approach to the earthquake threat,” Forgeron says.

IBC plans to do its part to advance a national conversation on how to prepare for a mega-earthquake – which is a greater than 1-in-500-year event and exceeds the industry’s capacity to respond. The bureau is committed to working closely with governments, the financial services industry and non-government organizations to ensure a national response framework is in place before such an earthquake hits.

“The study is a valuable tool and will be shared with governments, regulators, disaster preparedness organizations, the banking community, the insurance industry and the public,” Forgeron reports.

Things have changed – as has understanding of the potential impact of a major earthquake – since Munich Re released the last study of the economic impact of an earthquake in Canada more than 20 years ago.

Among these changes, the report points to urban and infrastructure development, economic and population growth, advances in earthquake research and building codes, and legislative changes. “Furthermore, recent experience has shown that risk such as tsunami, liquefaction and business interruption may not have been fully understood or taken into consideration when assessing earthquake risk in the past,” the report states. - Canadian Underwriter.

MASS FISH/BIRD DIE-OFF: The Latest Reports In Australia - Hundreds Of Dead Birds Wash Ashore Along Beaches From Coffs Harbour To Tasmania; And Unusual Mass Of Dead Fish Wash Up On Shores Of Curtis Island?!

October 31, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - The following constitutes the latest reports of mass die-off of fish and birds in Australia.

Hundreds Of Dead Birds Wash Ashore Along Beaches From Coffs Harbour To Tasmania.
Increasing frequency: Hundreds of Tasmanian muttonbirds, also known as short-tailed shearwaters,
have been found in dead on Port Phillip bay beaches. Photo: Jason South

Muttonbirds are dying in their thousands nearly every year and much more frequently than ever before, washing up on the coast from Coffs Harbour to Tasmania.

On South Melbourne and Port Melbourne beaches on Wednesday beach cleaning contractor David Martinez picked up more than 150 short-tailed shearwater birds, a species of muttonbird. One day last week, he picked up a similar number.

At Lord Howe Island this month, 200 shearwater birds washed up for the first time in many years, Monash University seabird biologist Jennifer Lavers said. These deaths en masse, known as "wrecks", have been reported along the coast from Coffs Harbour to Tasmania, she said.

The short-tailed shearwater birds migrate 10,000 kilometres from the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Japan, to Australian shores in late September to nest. Dr Lavers said they have eaten little on their journey and are exhausted by the flight.

She said it was normal for wrecks to occur every 10 years, and this usually indicated a particularly "poor year" for the birds with storms or no fish available on arrival. However, major wrecks had occurred every second year since 2007, pointing to a wider problem, she said.

"We need to start asking the question of what is going on in the marine environment," Dr Lavers said.

"This isn't just a hiccough. This isn't just a freak event. It is not just that the fish have decided to relocate themselves for one or two years or three years. This is obviously an indication of a much wider problem."

Dr Lavers said the birds started washing up on the beach in late September. By this time, the female birds are often carrying their only egg for the year and journey to sea to hunt for food with breeding males. Dr Lavers hypothesised that they may have failed to find fish and this may have contributed to the deaths.

"You don't want to lose your adult breeders. It spells trouble for species," she said.

Department of Environment and Primary Industries senior biodiversity officer Mandy Watson said in a statement that the feed available in the northern summer could affect the birds' journey as well as storms.

"Stormy weather and strong winds make it difficult for birds if they are already in poor condition from the long migration and this can be enough to cause their death," Ms Watson said.

"It is common for large numbers of short-tailed shearwaters not to make it."

Dr Lavers agreed that weather could play a role.

"Heavy winds will do great things to them, but is it just the wind? I would say no," she said.

Weather bureau forecaster Andrea Peace confirmed that Melbourne Airport wind records since 1971 show October had been the equal windiest month on record, based on average winds. The average wind speed was 23 km/h for the month.

Dr Lavers said there were many bird rescue groups in Melbourne and advised untrained beachgoers not to touch them. She said that even after a long journey they were often "feisty" and could leave bloody gashes on hands and arms.

Ms Watson said all native wildlife was protected in Victoria. "Because of the risk of being bitten or any disease the birds may carry unqualified people should avoid handling the birds if possible," she said.

Anyone who sees sick or injured wildlife is advised to call the department on 136 138 or RACV Wildlife Connect on 13 1111. - SMH.

Unusual Mass Of Dead Fish Wash Up On Shores Of Curtis Island.
Curtis Island fish kill, Ocean Beach, South End. Photo Contributed

AN UNUSUALLY large number of dead fish was found on the shores of Curtis Island over the weekend, concerning residents who believe the fish kill was in the thousands.

While the deaths coincide with the annual natural algae spread, locals say the event doesn't usually affect so many fish, or such large specimens.

The Environment Department is monitoring the situation, and have warned people that touching the slimy-looking algae could cause skin irritations.

Curtis Island resident Cheryl Watson, who saw the fish kill on Saturday, said it was an annual event to see a few small dead fish around, but this was something else.

WASHED UP: Thousands of dead fish have been appearing at South End on Curtis Island.

WASHED UP: Thousands of dead fish have been appearing at South End on Curtis Island.

 "We're not saying it's anything but the algae but it's an unusual circumstance to have such a variety and large fish," she said.

"The photos really don't show up the extent of it, they were in patches and tangled up in seaweed."

A spokesperson for the Environment Department said the cause of the fish remains unclear but it could be related to algae.

"Trichodesmium blooms occur naturally in tropical and sub-tropical water in late spring/summer typically disappearing within a few days," he said.

"There was a similar incident at Facing Island in 2011."

Fish deaths can be reported to EHP through the Pollution Hotline on 1300 130 372.  - Gladstone Observer.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.6 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Taiwan - Shaking And Swaying Buildings Over A Wide Area, Rattling Residents!

October 31, 2013 - TAIWAN - A strong earthquake hit eastern Taiwan on Thursday, shaking buildings over a wide area including the capital.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

USGS earthquake location.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake measured magnitude 6.6 and struck in the evening. It was centered in a remote mountainous area 28 miles south-southwest of the coastal city of Hualian at a depth of just 5.8 miles, it said.

In Taipei, the capital, buildings swayed for more than 10 seconds and startled residents ducked for cover.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Local TV channels reported that there appeared to be almost no damage in Hualian. However, it could take some time for the full impact of the quake to be evaluated because of the remoteness of the epicenter.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little or no damage.

However, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people. - USA Today.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics Of The Philippine Sea and Vicinity.
The Philippine Sea plate is bordered by the larger Pacific and Eurasia plates and the smaller Sunda plate. The Philippine Sea plate is unusual in that its borders are nearly all zones of plate convergence. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, south of Japan, beneath the Izu-Bonin and Mariana island arcs, which extend more than 3,000 km along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This subduction zone is characterized by rapid plate convergence and high-level seismicity extending to depths of over 600 km. In spite of this extensive zone of plate convergence, the plate interface has been associated with few great (Magnitude greater than 8.0) ‘megathrust’ earthquakes. This low seismic energy release is thought to result from weak coupling along the plate interface (Scholz and Campos, 1995). These convergent plate margins are also associated with unusual zones of back-arc extension (along with resulting seismic activity) that decouple the volcanic island arcs from the remainder of the Philippine Sea Plate (Karig et al., 1978; Klaus et al., 1992).

Photo: EPA

South of the Mariana arc, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath the Yap Islands along the Yap trench. The long zone of Pacific plate subduction at the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate is responsible for the generation of the deep Izu-Bonin, Mariana, and Yap trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of circum-pacific island arcs. Similarly, the northwestern margin of the Philippine Sea plate is subducting beneath the Eurasia plate along a convergent zone, extending from southern Honshu to the northeastern coast of Taiwan, manifested by the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu) trench. The Ryukyu Subduction Zone is associated with a similar zone of back-arc extension, the Okinawa Trough. At Taiwan, the plate boundary is characterized by a zone of arc-continent collision, whereby the northern end of the Luzon island arc is colliding with the buoyant crust of the Eurasia continental margin offshore China.

Along its western margin, the Philippine Sea plate is associated with a zone of oblique convergence with the Sunda Plate. This highly active convergent plate boundary extends along both sides the Philippine Islands, from Luzon in the north to the Celebes Islands in the south. The tectonic setting of the Philippines is unusual in several respects: it is characterized by opposite-facing subduction systems on its east and west sides; the archipelago is cut by a major transform fault, the Philippine Fault; and the arc complex itself is marked by active volcanism, faulting, and high seismic activity. Subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate occurs at the eastern margin of the archipelago along the Philippine Trench and its northern extension, the East Luzon Trough. The East Luzon Trough is thought to be an unusual example of a subduction zone in the process of formation, as the Philippine Trench system gradually extends northward (Hamburger et al., 1983). On the west side of Luzon, the Sunda Plate subducts eastward along a series of trenches, including the Manila Trench in the north, the smaller less well-developed Negros Trench in the central Philippines, and the Sulu and Cotabato trenches in the south (Cardwell et al., 1980). At its northern and southern terminations, subduction at the Manila Trench is interrupted by arc-continent collision, between the northern Philippine arc and the Eurasian continental margin at Taiwan and between the Sulu-Borneo Block and Luzon at the island of Mindoro. The Philippine fault, which extends over 1,200 km within the Philippine arc, is seismically active. The fault has been associated with major historical earthquakes, including the destructive M7.6 Luzon earthquake of 1990 (Yoshida and Abe, 1992). A number of other active intra-arc fault systems are associated with high seismic activity, including the Cotabato Fault and the Verde Passage-Sibuyan Sea Fault (Galgana et al., 2007).

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Relative plate motion vectors near the Philippines (about 80 mm/yr) is oblique to the plate boundary along the two plate margins of central Luzon, where it is partitioned into orthogonal plate convergence along the trenches and nearly pure translational motion along the Philippine Fault (Barrier et al., 1991). Profiles B and C reveal evidence of opposing inclined seismic zones at intermediate depths (roughly 70-300 km) and complex tectonics at the surface along the Philippine Fault.

Several relevant tectonic elements, plate boundaries and active volcanoes, provide a context for the seismicity presented on the main map. The plate boundaries are most accurate along the axis of the trenches and more diffuse or speculative in the South China Sea and Lesser Sunda Islands. The active volcanic arcs (Siebert and Simkin, 2002) follow the Izu, Volcano, Mariana, and Ryukyu island chains and the main Philippine islands parallel to the Manila, Negros, Cotabato, and Philippine trenches.

Seismic activity along the boundaries of the Philippine Sea Plate (Allen et al., 2009) has produced 7 great (Magnitude greater than 8.0) earthquakes and 250 large (Magnitude greater than 7) events. Among the most destructive events were the 1923 Kanto, the 1948 Fukui and the 1995 Kobe (Japan) earthquakes (99,000, 5,100, and 6,400 casualties, respectively), the 1935 and the 1999 Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquakes (3,300 and 2,500 casualties, respectively), and the 1976 M7.6 Moro Gulf and 1990 M7.6 Luzon (Philippines) earthquakes (7,100 and 2,400 casualties, respectively). There have also been a number of tsunami-generating events in the region, including the Moro Gulf earthquake, whose tsunami resulted in more than 5000 deaths. - USGS.