Wednesday, January 1, 2014

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Multiple Victims Hospitalized After Powerful Explosion Rips Through Minnesota Building - 1 Dead, 14 Injured!

January 01, 2014 - UNITED STATES - At least one person may have been killed when an explosion ignited a blaze that destroyed an apartment building in Minneapolis, officials said Thursday.

At least one person appears to have died in the explosion and fire that gutted a Minneapolis apartment complex
on New Year's Day. (Glen Stubbe / Minneapolis Star Tribune / January 2, 2014)

Minneapolis Fire Department officials said they found a body in the rubble on Thursday afternoon and turned the remains over to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office for examination.

Fourteen people were injured, at least four of them seriously, in the blast and ensuing fire Wednesday morning, which forced some residents to leap out of their windows into the subzero cold to escape the blaze. Some flames reached at least 20 feet in height out of the building's second and third floors.

"The cause of the fire is still under investigation," the fire department said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "While a gas leak could be one potential cause, it could be weeks until a cause is determined and may ultimately be undetermined."

 At least 14 people were hurt in an explosion and fire at an apartment building in Minneapolis.
(McKenna Ewen / Minneapolis Star-Tribune / January 1, 2014)

Fire Chief John Fruetel said Thursday that some residents had smelled some kind of gas before the explosion, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

However, a spokeswoman for CenterPoint Energy, a natural gas utility, said the company had "no natural gas in the area," the newspaper reported.

Fruetel said the explosion was likely not due to a bomb. - LA Times.

MASS BIRD/FISH DIE-OFF: The Latest Incidents In South America - Thousands Of Sardines Wash Up Dead On Beaches In Valparaiso, Chile; Hundreds Of Fish Turn Up Dead In A Dam In Fatima, Brazil; And Tons Of Crabs, Sea Shells, Mussels, And Birds Wash Up Dead On Beaches In Lima, Peru!

January 01, 2014 - SOUTH AMERICA - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass bird and fish die-offs in South America:

Thousands Of Sardines Wash Up Dead On Beaches In Valparaiso, Chile.
Thousands of sardines found dead on a beach in Chile. Windows was in the region of Valparaíso and suspect
that a school may have been absorbed by a power generator in a power plant.

Thousands of sardines were on Wednesday stranded on the beach of Windows in the region of Valparaíso (central Chile) reported medioamientales fishermen and organizations.

Beach Windows appeared the morning of Christmas covered by thousands of dead sardines, as can be seen in disseminated by the Communities Movement for Right to Life pictures.

"(I appeared) a considerable amount of dead sardines. We do not remember the date (that) stranding of this type has occurred," he told Radio Bio Bio Carlos Vega, union Fishermen Windows, about 120 kilometers west of Santiago.

The fisherman said the area where the sardines were "very close to the vent thermoelectric" coal-fired power plants located in the same generation beach.

The environment secretary ministerierial Valparaiso, Gonzalo Le Dantec, told the newspaper La Tercera that "the number modulo 4 power generator AES Gener termoeléctricade plant would have absorbed a school of these fish." "The alarms were activated, driving the sardines by the sea," he said.

According to Le Dantes, the Maritime and National Marine Fisheries Service "are conducting relevant research and cleaning the area."

The authorities began an investigation to determine the causes of the mass stranding of these fish. - El Diario. [Translated]

Hundreds Of Fish Turn Up Dead In A Dam In Fatima, Brazil.
Hundreds of different species of fish were found dead in a dam located at the back of the field Renner Fatima neighborhood, worrying nearby residents. Still on the afternoon of Monday, the owner of the dam was the City in search of technicians to analyze what caused the death of the fish, which ended up not happening.

On Tuesday, Secretary Fernando Bernal and director of the Department of Environment Ana Margaret Machado, became aware of the event through Radio Fandango and promised by the Department of Environmental Monitoring (DVA) to seek an answer on what might have caused the death Fish. - Radio Fandango. [Translated]

Tons Of Crabs, Sea Shells, Mussels, And Birds Wash Up Dead On Beaches In Lima, Peru.
City staff and locals are working to clean beaches, but these are still filled with decaying animals.

Tons of crabs, sea shells, mussels and dead guano and decomposing birds are carried by sea to the shores of the beaches of Chancay (Lima Province Huaral) reported Canal N.

This phenomenon, which is recorded from five days ago, has mobilized residents and municipal staff, who are dedicated to cleaning the coast of northern boy from early morning until evening.

WATCH: Dead molluscs on Chanchay beaches. (Channel N)

However, despite their efforts, the sea is throwing sand in the molluscs decomposition.

It was also reported that the cause of this strange phenomenon is not yet known. - Peru 21. [Translated]

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Multiple Bombs Rock Mogadishu, Somalia - At Least 11 Killed!

January 01, 2014 - SOMALIA - Three bombs exploded within an hour outside a hotel frequented by government officials in a heavily fortified district of the Somali capital on Wednesday, killing at least 11 people.

Fire burns at the scene of an explosion outside the Jazira hotel in Mogadishu January 1, 2014.
Credit: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The attacks on the Jazira hotel, one of the securest places in Mogadishu, underscore the security challenges facing President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whose election by lawmakers last year was hailed by many as a way to end two decades of conflict.

The first two bombs came in quick succession and were followed by heavy bursts of gunfire by Somali security forces. The third blast took place about an hour later when a bomb went off inside a car that was being searched by the military.

At least one of the first two bombs appeared to be a suicide bomber, police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the Islamist rebel group al Shabaab has carried out a campaign of attacks over the past two and a half years in Mogadishu.

"First we heard a big crash and the security forces immediately opened fire," said Abdullahi Hussein who lives 300 meters behind the hotel. "After a few minutes another explosion took place and there was more gunfire."

Soldiers assess the scene of an explosion outside the Jazira hotel in Mogadishu, January 1, 2014.
Credit: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of a private ambulance service, told Reuters at least 11 people had been killed and 17 others were wounded.

The attack will be an embarrassment to the government whose survival depends heavily on a near 18,000-strong African peacekeeping force. Donors pump in hundreds of millions of dollars into the Horn of Africa country every year to provide basic services.

A firefighter walks at the scene of an explosion outside the Jazira hotel in Mogadishu, January 1, 2014.
Credit: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

"This year, 2014 is going to be the strengthening of Somali forces and the elimination of the extremists," the newly appointed Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed said in a statement on Wednesday.

The African forces helped drive al Shabaab out of the capital in August 2011, as well as other major urban centers, but the militants still hold sway over swathes of rural areas.

Islamist suicide bombers attacked the Jazira hotel in September last year as Mohamud was giving a news conference just two days into the job. He and the visiting Kenyan foreign minister were unhurt in that assault.

Police officers carry an injured man from the scene of a bomb attack outside the Jazira hotel in
Mogadishu January 1, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

An attack on Kenyan shopping mall in September that killed dozens of people highlighted the militants' ability to strike beyond Somalia's borders. - Reuters.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Unrest Continues In 2014 - Very Strong Magnitude 6.6 Earthquake Hits The South Pacific Island Of Vanuatu!

January 01, 2014 - VANUATU - The U.S. Geological Survey says a 6.6-magnitude earthquake has hit the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

USGS earthquake location.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says there is no tsunami warning in effect.

The USGS report says the quake hit early Thursday local time, with the epicenter 37 kilometers (23 miles) west of the village of Sola and 443 kilometers (275 miles) north of the capital, Port Vila.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

The report says the quake was at a depth was 196 kilometers (122 miles).

The islands are on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. - ABC News.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate.
The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

USGS tectonic plates boundary.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (greater than 120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet". - USGS.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Mystery Steam Over Fukushima - Could Be Sign Of Another Meltdown?!

January 01, 2014 - JAPAN - The newest update in the highly disconcerting series of devastating failures that is the Fukushima cleanup effort is troubling to say the least. Tepco has confirmed that (unexplained) plumes of steam have been rising from the mangled remains of Reactor Building 3. In other words, there's a chance Fukushima could be in the middle of another meltdown.

The thing is, no one has been able to find out the exact cause of the rising, mysterious radioactive steam because the combination of physical damage and, more importantly, lethal radiation levels have made investigating the reactor impossible. Tepco has known that a followup meltdown was a severe possibility, though. The Reactor 3 fuel storage pond is still home to about 89 tons of plutonium-based mixed-oxide fuel according to the The Ecologist, and should that fuel storage pond dry out, the highly radioactive rods will melt down with devastating results.

Still, there are two other slightly less severe possibilities outlined by The Ecologist. First, the molten fuel could have burnt its way through the base and into the soil below, producing steam as it comes into contact with groundwater (while simultaneously releasing radioactive contaminants into the ocean). Second, reactor rod fragments could have come into contact with rainwater, producing extreme amounts of heat and, consequently, steam. As The Ecologist notes, "Of the three choices this is probably the least serious."

While some of the possible outcomes might be better than others, nothing we're facing is exactly ideal. But of course, that seems to be the recurring theme for Tepco's efforts at containing the Fukushima disaster. Why change now. - Gizmodo.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia's Sinabung Volcano Erupts Again - Sending Hot Rocks And Ash 7,000 Meters High; Displacing Over 19,000 Residents!

January 01, 2014 - INDONESIA - More than 19,000 people have been displaced by a volcano in Indonesia that has been erupting for months and shot lava into the air nine times overnight.

Mount Sinabung on Sumatra sent hot rocks and ash 7,000 meters in the air last night and this morning, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

“Mount Sinabung remains on the highest alert level and we have warned there should be no human activity within a five-kilometer radius of the crater,” Mr Nugroho said. “On Monday night, 19,126 people had fled their homes, and we expect that number to rise.”

Police and soldiers were patrolling the danger zone to evacuate people who have chosen to stay in their homes, Mr. Nugroho added. Mount Sinabung – one of dozens of active volcanoes in Indonesia which straddles major tectonic fault lines – erupted in September for the first time since 2010 and has been rumbling ever since.

In August, five people were killed and hundreds evacuated when a volcano on a tiny island in East Nusa Tenggara province erupted. The country’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in 2010. - ABC.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Disaster Impact - Unusually Large Number Of High-Profile Earthquakes Destroy Highway Near U.S.-Mexico Border And Rattles Residents In Europe, Egypt And The Americas!

January 01, 2014 - MEXICO - An unusually large number of high-profile earthquakes sprung up across the globe over the weekend, causing extensive damage to a roadway in Mexico and leaving residents shaken in southern Europe, Egypt and the U.S.

Saturday, an earthquake near the Mexico - U.S. border collapsed chunks of this 300-yard stretch of highway. (Via CNN)

"The road is about 60 miles south of Tijuana. It passes over geological fault. The earthquake ranged in magnitude from 1.3 to 4.3." (Via WABC)

There were surprisingly no injuries, but one truck driver hauling 36 tons of cement had to wait hours before being pulled to safety. (Via NBC)

Also Saturday, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake reportedly hit the Mediterranean Sea, shaking nearby Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt. (Via Famagusta Gazette)

That was followed by a 4.9 magnitude earthquake nearly 1,500 miles away around Naples, Italy early Sunday morning. Residents reportedly slept in their cars in fear of aftershocks that might damage buildings. (Via U.S. Geological Survey)

WATCH: Earthquake destroys highway near U.S.-Mexico border.

In the U.S., Oklahoma dealt with several earthquakes over the last week with more striking over the weekend. Most were reported as minor between 2.0 magnitude and 4.9., but the Midwestern state has rarely dealt with earthquakes, until recent years. (Via KOTV) (Via Al Jazeera)

"We've had tornadoes and hail storms and those types of things, but never earthquakes."

Great. So now Oklahoma has to be worried about the sky falling AND the ground dropping out? Well, not quite — at least not to a very high degree.

According to the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, magnitude 2 and smaller earthquakes general happen several times around the world daily, while bigger ones are more rare. A magnitude 8 or higher usually only happens about once a year.

Many of these reported earthquakes were between 2.0 magnitude a 4.9. No extensive damage was reported in the ones in Turkey, Italy and Oklahoma and no injuries were reported in any of them. - AJC.