Saturday, April 30, 2016

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Geological Upheavals - Recent Earthquake In Japan Dries Up CENTURIES-OLD Kumamoto Water Source!

Shioisha spring in Minami-Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, has gone dry since the earthquake of April 16.Nasuka Yamamoto

April 30, 2016 - JAPAN - For hundreds of years, the sacred Shioisha spring here has provided water for drinking and irrigation in this village in the shadow of Mount Aso.

But the fountainhead, which gushed about five tons of spring water a minute, has dried up since the magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck the prefecture early on April 16. Its disappearance has local residents baffled.

"I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear that Shioisha spring has dried up. It turns my world upside down," said 95-year-old Natsuko Goto, who was taking shelter at an elementary school after the earthquake. "What will happen now?"

Shioisha spring is located on the premises of Shioijinja shrine.

According to Sachio Hirose, the 63-year-old parish representative, there are many fountainhead springs in Minami-Aso, which has been dubbed "the village where water is born." However, Shioisha spring is the one that has been worshiped by local residents as the sacred spring where the "god of water" dwells.

Its abundant waters have been a blessing for local rice farmers.

Every year, the planting of rice seedlings starts at the beginning of May in Minami-Aso, but at the moment, there is no water to irrigate the rice paddies, casting a dark shadow over the village and its agricultural production.

"The headspring had been gushing water out for the past centuries and sustaining people's livelihoods," Hirose said. "I can't believe this is happening in my lifetime."

- Asahi Shimbun.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Vanuatu Islands - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

April 30, 2016 - VANUATU ISLANDS - A 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit off the South Pacific island of Vanuatu Saturday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake struck at a depth of 4.8 kilometres (3 miles), some 85 kilometres (52.8 miles) south of the port city Luganville - known locally as Santo - USGS said.

Vanuatu is part of the "Ring of Fire", a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

USGS shakemap intensity.

This month has seen a series of tremors reported, including a powerful 7.0-magnitude quake on Friday which hit 209 kilometres from the capital Port Vila.

That powerful earthquake briefly prompted a tsunami warning that was cancelled after locals reported no significant damage.

A 6.9-magnitude tremor also hit the country at the beginning of April but no tsunami alerts were issued and there were also no reports of damage.

USGS 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.

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.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

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".

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics

- USGS | New Straits Times.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Natural Gas Explosion Creates Massive Fireball In Pennsylvania - One Person Injured! [VIDEO]

Tonilconrad posted video to Instagram on April 29, 2016 of a gas explosion in Pennsylvania. Instagram: tonilconrad
April 30, 2016 - PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES - A natural gas explosion erupted into a massive ball of fire near Salem Township, Pennsylvania, this morning. One person was injured.

Forbes Road Fire Department Chief Bob Rosatti said in a press conference it was the "biggest ball of fire I've ever seen." As firetrucks "were coming around the bend, it looked like you were looking down in hell," he added.

The Forbes Road Fire Department was dispatched at 8:17 a.m. after multiple calls of a huge fire. Spectra Energy reported the incident, which involved the Texas Eastern pipeline owned by the company.

"Our first concern is for the safety of the community, our employees and any others who may be affected. We have activated our emergency response plan," Creighton Welch, manager of external communications for Spectra Energy, said in a statement.

WATCH: Gas line explosion causes inferno in Pennsylvania.

One man sustained burns after running out of his home and being exposed to the heat from the fire ball. The man described the explosion as a loud noise like a tornado.

The Delmont Fire Department said homes and businesses within a one-mile radius were evacuated. By 9:30 a.m. the flames started to die down and it was mostly black smoke, according to the fire department.

Approximately 10 to 12 homes remain in the evacuation zone. The explosion is being investigated.

- ABC News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increased Seismic Activity Reported At Nevado del Ruiz Volcano In Colombia - Swarm Of Minor To Moderate Earthquakes Reported!

Nevado del Ruiz volcano. El Nuevo Dia

April 30, 2016 - COLOMBIA - The Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Manizales reported two moderate earthquakes after a swarm of minor quakes in the Nevado del Ruiz volcano.

The quakes are related to rock fracturing and demonstrate a significant increase in the volcanic activity of the volcano.


The earthquake swarm started at around 5pm on April 29, 2016, before two moderate tremors (both M3.4 on Richter's scale) occurred at the 8:26 and 8:46 pm on April 29, 2016.

The two stronger quakes were located in the northeastern sector of the volcanic structure at a depth of 3.78 kilometers.


Ash falls has also been reported in Murillo, a small city near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which shows increased seismic activity.

Officials say, the Nevado del Ruiz volcano is emitting ash since already 17 months, but due to the particular weather conditions it has started falling around.

- Strange Sounds.


EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Unusually Severe Heat Wave Hits South Asia - Over 300 People Killed, And The Hottest Month Is Still Ahead!

A farmer walking at his drought-hit rice field in Nonthaburi province outside Bangkok.Christophe Archambault / AFP

April 30, 2016 - SOUTH ASIA - South Asia has been setting temperature records: A roasting heat wave has been ripping through much of the region since early April. Hundreds of people suffered severe heat strokes in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, while the death toll in India exceeded 300.

Scorching temperatures have allowed at least three countries to set new all-time national heat records with Thailand, which has kept records since 1950, leading the way.

After Sukhothai, Thailand set the first record of 111.7 degrees Fahrenheit (44.3 degrees Celsius), on April 12, on Friday a remote, mountainous province in northern Thailand, Mae Hong Son banked in a record in with 112.3 degrees Fahrenheit (44.6 degrees Celcius), according to Christopher Burt, a weather historian with He added that since April 19, more than 50 urban areas have recorded heat records.

"As of now we can say we've broken the record for the highest temperatures over the longest duration in 65 years - and the season isn't over yet," said Surapong Sarapa, head of the Thai Meteorological Department's weather forecast division.

Starting from March, the extreme heat has claimed the lives of as many as 21 people, Thai Department of Communicable Disease Control said Thursday. Thirteen of the victims succumbed to heat outside their homes, two in vehicles, one in a temple, and five in houses. Authorities called for the population to stay indoors and drink lots of water to avoid heatstroke.

All-time national heat records have also been seen in Cambodia and Laos. The new all-time record high for Cambodia was set on April 15 at 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit (42.6 degrees Celcius) in Preah Vihea. Laos set its own national all-time high temperature of 108.14 Fahrenheit (42.3 Celcius ) in Seno.

Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam are also feeling the heat. But it seems that India has been hit the worst, where hundreds of people have died.

At least 300 people died of heat-related illness this month, AP reported, as temperatures this month break the 111 Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) mark.

India's Centre for Holistic Development (CHD), a non-governmental organization, is reporting that 244 unidentified bodies have been found on the streets this month, mainly homeless, with up to 50 percent having died from the heat.

A boy cools himself off as he sits under a fountain on a hot summer day in New Delhi. Adnan Abidi / Reuters

"Of this, 80 per cent are of homeless people. Out of that figure, 40 to 50 per cent are heat-related deaths, which could have been prevented had proper facilities been put in place. A homeless person is already undermined by malnourishment, drug addiction, lack of access to timely medical intervention, tuberculosis and other immunity compromising diseases; dehydration and extreme exposure (to heat or cold) then is a fatal blow," CHD's Sunil Kumar Aledia told the Hindu Times.

The temperature has forced Indian officials in the eastern state of Bihar to ban daytime cooking in some parts of the country to try to prevent accidental fires, after a fire in the village killed 79 people.

The heat wave is also causing severe drought in the much of India effecting crops and livestock. groundwater reservoirs are at just 22 percent capacity in parts of the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat after rivers, lakes and dams have dried up.

India's meteorological department said Thursday that the heat wave would continue over the weekend and might only get worse during May, which is traditionally the hottest month in India

- RT.


GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Abandoned Coal Mine May Lie Beneath Sinkhole That Just Opened Up In Sheffield, England - Measures 20-FEET DEEP!

Residents believe the sinkhole could have been caused by an underground coal mine.

April 30, 2016 - ENGLAND - Locals believe that there's a reason behind the sudden appearance of the huge gaping chasm on the way into the city centre

Workers were left stunned after they discovered what was lurking at the bottom of a 20ft-deep sinkhole which opened up in Sheffield this morning.

Contractors were called in to fill the gaping chasm with concrete, but discovered that an old coal mine could actually lie underneath the unstable ground.

The sinkhole has meant the road has been shut all day, causing havoc for commuters attempting to drive into the city centre.

The huge sinkhole is said to be about 20ft deep.

Pensioner Phil Lovell, 87, said: "I've lived round here a long time.

"I used to live down the road and there were two drift mines. We used to come on our bikes and we used to go down the opposite one here." Mr Lovell said the drifts were dug to mine ganister, a stone used to line furnaces in the steel industry.

Old ganister mines litter many areas of Sheffield.

He said there was a local legend that the mines went right under the Woodseats area of the city.

But he dismissed other rumours that the tunnel at the bottom of the hole had a more romantic link to the nearby Beauchief Abbey. - Mirror.


ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Dead Minke Whale Found On Shore At Creevy, Ireland; And Arctic Narwhal Strands On Belgium Shore For The First Time?!

Róisin Gallagher, a daughter of Donegal Democrat staff photographer Thomas Gallagher standing beside the whale to give a sense of size and scale.Thomas Gallagher

April 30, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Dead Minke whale found on shore at Creevy, Ireland

A dead minke whale washed up on rocks at Creevy Pier between Ballyshannon and Rossnowlagh on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning is attracting interest with increasing numbers of curious visitors arriving on Thursday evening to view the whale.

At approximately 25 to 28 feet in length, it is typical in size for a mature specimen. In general at physical maturity, males and females in the North Atlantic average between 7.9 - 8.17 m (25.9 - 26.8 ft) and 8.42 - 8.5 m (27.6 - 27.9 ft).

It's reported that there was "a steady stream of people" coming to view the dead whale.

The dead whale was lodged on rocks approximately 50 metres 'behind' the pier on the Kildoney side.

At high tide it may well be taken out to sea by the tide but for the moment it has been in the same spot for the best part of a day at high and low tide.

Should it remain on the rocks its disposal will be an issue for the local authority in due course.

The common minke whale or northern minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) is a species of minke whale within the suborder of baleen whales. It is the smallest member of the rorquals and the second smallest species of baleen whale.

Although first ignored by whalers due to its small size and low oil yield, it began to be exploited by various countries beginning in the early 20th century. As other species declined larger numbers of common minke whales were caught, largely for their meat. It is now one of the primary targets of the whaling industry. There is a dwarf form in the Southern Hemisphere.

Arctic narwhal strands on Belgium shore for the first time ever

For the first time in recorded history, the "unicorn of the sea" has washed up dead in Belgium.Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen

The last time one of these near-mythical beasts was spotted in western Europe was in 1949 (the same year the Polaroid camera first came to market). The animal's skeleton will be moved to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, where it will join the collections as an important natural history specimen.

"This sighting is particularly significant as in the past 14 months we've had other Arctic cetaceans visit our waters," explains Dr Peter Evans, founder of the Sea Watch Foundation, an organisation that works to monitor whales, dolphins and porpoises in the area. "Sea temperatures were unusually low last spring, and [there's] a possibility that the fragmentation of floating ice may have resulted in whales typically associated with pack ice straying much further south." One such animal was a beluga whale, the only other species in the family Monodontidae, to which narwhals also belong.

Narwhals (Monodon monoceros) are known to travel in groups of 15 to 20 individuals, so there is some concern among scientists that this carcass won't be the only one to surface. However, the topology of the North Sea has been known to function as a "whale trap" under certain conditions, and it's entirely possible that this animal was separated from its pod.

The swirling tusk that gives these pale-coloured porpoises their species name (monoceros is Greek for "unicorn") is found only in males. The tusk is a modified tooth - the front left canine - which breaks straight through the upper lip as it grows. While the tusk certainly can be used for sparring, researchers have found that nerve endings within it could allow narwhals to "taste" surrounding waters.

Unlike most mammal teeth, narwhal tusks are not protected by enamel. They contain a system of channels and tubes that usher in traces of sea water, which, once inside, excite nerves at the centre of the tooth. It's thought that this interaction alerts the animal's brain to any chemical or temperature changes in its environment - a particularly handy trick when searching for food or a mate in the vast Arctic seas.

Though the Belgium narwhal was already in an advanced state of decomposition by the time it was discovered, a necrospy (animal autopsy) has been performed. Determining a cause of death from this state can be tricky, but we'll be updating you as any information comes to light.

- Donegal Democrat | Earth Touch News Network.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Snowfall Causes May Day Misery For England Travellers, 6 Inches Of Snow Falls At Leeds Bradford Airport; Cold Spring Weather Cancels Official Opening Of Snowed On Snowdon Mountain In Wales! [VIDEO]

 Two men push a car up a hill in Great Horton, Bradford, following heavy snow falls this morning. Guzelian

April 30, 2016 - EARTH - The following articles constitutes several of the latest reports on heavy snowfall, low temperatures and snow storms as global cooling continues across the Earth.

Snowfall causes May Day misery for UK travelers; 6 inches of snow falls at Leeds Bradford Airport

An unseasonal mix of snowfall and sleet has caused disruption to those making an early start to the May Day bank holiday weekend.

Flights were cancelled and delayed for passengers after six inches (15cm) of snow fell at Leeds Bradford Airport overnight, forcing the runway to close for part of Friday.

Motorists looking to take advantage of the three-day weekend have been advised by police to take extra caution following a spike of weather-related collisions in the north of England on Friday morning.

Forecasters have predicted further snow, sleet and hail as May approaches.

Commuters in northern England and southern Scotland awoke on Friday to yellow warnings of snow, while showers of rain and sleet are expected to hit lower levels.

 Snow covers an abandoned overturned car on A703 in Waterhead, Midlothian, as Scotland wakes to snow in the last few days of April.  SWNS

 A snow covered pavement in Burnley, Lancashire, as the unseasonably cool weather continues.  Kim Pilling/PA

 Heavy snowfall causes traffic chaos in Keighley, West Yorkshire. SWNS

Sheep shelter against a dry stone wall in the Yorkshire Dales.

Throughout the day the band of wintry weather carrying thundery downpours is due to move towards the south and east, with occasional sunny spells accompanied by a stiff breeze. Ahead of the cold front, temperatures are expected to reach 13C (55F) in the South East, while the mercury will creep past 8C (46F) in most parts.

Met Office forecaster Helen Roberts said: "The remnants of the system that is bringing snow across southern Scotland and England will be lingering into Friday evening, predominantly in the north east of England. "Mostly it will be rain showers and a wintry mix of snow, sleet and hail for the rest of the country."

WATCH: Snow brings frozen start to bank holiday getaway with blizzard conditions.

Hail was expected "just about anywhere", she said, adding: "Later in the day we are most likely to see hail cause trouble on the roads if the ice builds up as conditions become slippery."

After a cold night on Friday, a keen frost is expected to follow on Saturday morning, although the best conditions of the weekend are expected later on.

While it will be a fairly dry day for many, showers are likely in eastern parts of the UK.

Cold Spring weather cancels official opening of snowed on Snowdon mountain in Wales

Snowdon. Hefin Owen

The railway track is covered in snow and sections of paths are very slippery

Tourists and locals who had been waiting for the opening of Snowdon's summit this weekend will have to wait another week due to more heavy snow.

Despite workers' efforts to clear the railway track in time for the opening, the amount of snow which has fallen over the past days means the track, which goes from Llanberis to the summit, is covered in snow.

No facilities will open this weekend and they are hoping people will be able to access the peak of Snowdon from next Friday, May 6.

A spokesperson said on the Facebook group: "Due to the snow on the mountain, we have reluctantly had to cancel opening this weekend. "The railway have been working tirelessly to keep the track clear.

"However, we have not been able to get the commissioning finished and we have had more snow which has covered the track.

"So there will be no facilities open on the summit this weekend.

The Snowdon railway can't open because of snow. Hefin Owen

"We are sorry but the railway and summit staff have worked in atrocious conditions all week but we have been thwarted by yesterday's weather.

"Hopefully we will open on Friday 5th May all being well."
Sections of paths very slippery due to snow on #Snowdon today.

— Eryri Warden Report (@snowdonweather) 27 April 2016
Anyone who may have pre-booked tickets for the first week of May is advised to contact the Snowdon Mountain Railway visitor information to change the booking or receive a refund.

Sections of paths very slippery due to snow. Eryri Warden Report

The Snowdon Mountain Railway website stated trains will be running to Clogwyn but not to the summit.
Well people...coming to #Snowdonia this weekend? Here's what to expect!!! Remember to bring ice axe and crampons!

— Snowdonia Warden (@WardenEryri) 29 April 2016
And hikers are being warned that sections of paths on the Snowdonia mountain range are very slippery.

- Western Mail. | Telegraph.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, Widespread Flooding, And Catastrophic Storms - Five Killed And 14,000 Homeless Due To Floods In Tanzania; South Mississippi Hit By Flash Floods Following 10 Inches Of Rain In Just A Few Hours, Gulfport Declares Emerency; Thousands Remain Displaced As Military Carry Out Relief Efforts In Argentina; Building Collapses In Nairobi, Thousands Displaced Across Kenya! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Floods in Tanzania. Habarika2

April 30, 2016 - EARTH - The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

Five killed and 14,000 homeless due to floods in Tanzania

Five people have been reported dead while 13,933 residents from 3,095 homesteads have been left homeless due to floods caused by ongoing rains in four districts here.

The affected districts include Kilosa, Kilombero, Morogoro and Malinyi, according to Morogoro Regional Commissioner (RC), Dr Kebwe Steven Kebwe.

Apart from the deaths, Dr Kebwe said the downpour has devastated property, crops and roads, making many parts of the region unreachable by roads.

"A total of 315 houses have been destroyed, rendering 3,095 homesteads with 13,933 people without roofs over their heads in Kilosa, Kilombero, Morogoro and Malinyi districts," the RC announced here.

He explained further that the three people who were killed in Kilombero District were all students who were trying to cross a flooded river. Two people were killed in Morogoro District.

The rains, according to Dr Kebwe, started in the region on April 10. At Malinyi, a 94-kilometre road network linking Lupiro, Malinyi and Kilosa was badly damaged.

Ngombo Primary School in the district has remained closed since April 12 after its buildings were submerged in water.

In the same district, 6,000 hectares of paddy, maize and sunflowers have been washed away with floods. "There have been floods in Ulanga, Gairo and Mvomero districts but we have not received any report of devastation there.

I call upon well-wishers to support the affected families," he appealed.

Morogoro is among the regions which the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) had predicted would receive above normal rains during the long rainfall season spanning between March and May each year.

South Mississippi hit by flash floods following 10 inches of rain in just a few hours; Gulfport declares emergency

Flood rescue in Gulfport. Mississippi, 28 April 2016. Gulfport Police Department

Parts of South Mississippi experienced flash flooding yesterday after a storm system struck in the early hours of Thursday, 28 April, 2016, dumping as much as 10 inches (254mm) of rain in just a few hours.

Gulfport, Biloxi and D'Iberville have been hardest hit. Around 20 homes and businesses have been flooded in Gulfport, where emergency crews carried out over 70 flood rescues. The Red Cross has set up shelters for those evacuated.

Areas along Dedeaux Road in Gulfport flood Thursday morning after heavy downpours. Damon McDaniel

Gulfport's mayor, Billy Hewes, has declared a State of Emergency for the city. In a statement of 28 April, he said:
"With today's unprecedented weather event, dropping over 10 inches of rain this morning with continued accumulation anticipated over the course of the day, resulting in widespread flooding throughout the City of Gulfport, I am hereby declaring a State of Emergency. Monitoring the storm since early this morning, our crews are at work responding to storm drain blockages, water rescues, road closures, and emergency calls. If you are experiencing or are aware of situations needing critical attention, please call 311 for non-emergencies, and 911 for emergencies. We urge citizens to continue to use extreme caution, and not venture out unless necessary."
Many residents say that the flood water has since receded. However, there remains a flood threat from swollen rivers and affected areas may not yet be in the clear.

Floods in Gulfport

National Weather Service say that flood a warning continues for the Biloxi River Near Lyman affecting Harrison County until late Friday, 29 April. By Thursday evening levels stood at 16.1 feet, well above flood stage of 12 feet. Levels are expected to peak at 17 feet late Friday.A flood warning continues for the Wolf River above Gulfport, affecting Harrison County, until Saturday afternoon. At 7:00 PM Thursday the stage was 10.0 feet, 2 feet above flood stage. Levels are expected to peak at 15 feet on Saturday, 30 April.

WATCH: Driver rescued from Mississippi flooding.

There could also be more heavy rainfall in the next 24 hours. NWS New Orleans said that there would be "one warm and dry day before thunderstorms return Saturday afternoon into Sunday, with heavy rain possible."

Thousands remain displaced as military carry out relief efforts in Argentina

As many as 7 provinces in Argentina remain affected by flooding that began in early April, 2016.

Estimates suggest that there are still around 40,000 people affected by the floods, with some 12,000 displaced. The prolonged displacement of so many has raised concerns about their health and well-being, and prompted the government to call on the military to carry out relief operations in affected areas.

Heavy rain observed in the region from early April resulted in flooding after several rivers overflowed in the north of the country, leaving thousands displaced and adding to the woes of a population that has suffered flooding intermittently since December 2015.

Rainfall More Than 300mm Above Monthly Average

Heavy and prolonged rain has been observed in Argentina over the last month, with some areas seeing over 300mm more than normal.

According to a technical report of the Argentinian National Meteorological Service (Servicio Nacional de Meteorológia, SMN) a significant amount of rain has been recorded from the 01 April 2016 to the 20 April 2016, with cumulated values significantly higher than the historical mean monthly values.

The difference was particularly high in the Uruguay River Basin, with a surplus of 343.6 mm recorded at Concordia (Entre Ríos Province) and of 337.8 mm at Monte Caseros (Corrientes Province). Also along the Paraná River the observed values were exceptionally high, with a surplus, in respect of the mean value, of 257.7 mm recorded at Reconquista (Santa Fe Province).

Thousands Remain Displaced

Cumulated Rain [mm] from 1 April 2016 until 20 April 2016.  Servicio Nacional de Meteorológia, Argentina

The torrential rains of April 2015 caused several rivers to overflow, chiefly the Uruguay, Paraná and tributaries, and the flooding of several urban and agricultural areas in the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Formosa, Santa Fe, Cordoba and Chaco, impacting many regions and people that had already been affected by the floods that occurred between December 2015 and January 2016.

The prolonged flood situation, combined with the ebb and flow of the flood waters and those displaced by them, make it difficult to find exact figures on the number of people currently affected and evacuated. The Red Cross estimates the figure at around 30,000. Other sources suggest it is above 40,000.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, “as of April 26, 2016, in the provinces of Corrientes, Entre Rios, Santa Fe, Chaco, and Formosa, a total of 11,826 people have been evacuated, 255 people have been self-evacuated, 744 people are isolated, and 44,882 people have been affected”.

Cristian Bolado, director of Emergency Response and Disaster Argentina Red Cross, said in a recent report on the flood situation that in the provinces of Córdoba, Chaco, Entre Rios, Corrientes, Santa Fe, Formosa and Buenos Aires there are 2,084 families evacuated, plus those who have self-evacuated and those who aren’t displaced but whose houses have suffered flood damage.

The most recent flooding occurred in Chaco Province, where 4,653 people remain evacuated or self-evacuated, according to Argentina news agency Telam.

Military Assistance

Hundreds of troops from Argentina’s armed forces have been deployed to carry out relief and rescue operations in in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Misiones and Santa Fe. Food, medicines, mattresses, clothes and drinking water have all been distributed.

Defense Minister Julio Martinez recently visited affected communities in the provinces of Corrientes and Santa Fe, and yesterday in parts of Entre Ríos Province.

“We are carrying out the express wishes of the President, who asked remain in contact with the victims and to meet their needs,” said the minister.

Floods from above, in Goya, Corrientes, 20 April, 2016. PMinisterio de Defensa, Argentina.

The Argentina Army carrying our flood relief and rescue operations in Gualeguaychú, Entre Ríos. Ejército Argentino / Ministerio de Defensa, Argentina.

The Argentina Army carrying our flood relief and rescue operations. Ministerio de Defensa, Argentina.

Minister of Defence visits flood-hit areas of Entre Ríos Province, Argentina, 28 April 2016. Ministerio de Defensa, Argentina.

Teams from Argentina Red Cross assisting flood victims, April 2016. Argentina Red Cross

Building collapses in Nairobi, thousands displaced across Kenya

Ongoing heavy rain continues to cause panic and destruction in several parts of Kenya. Flooding has affected the counties of Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana, where thousands have been displaced.

However, the worst hit area if the nation’s capital, Nairobi. On Thursday, 28 April, Nairobi recorded 85mm of rain in just 3 hours, with severe flooding reported across parts of the city. The average monthly rainfall for April in Nairobi is around 220mm, according to WMO.

Further heavy rainfall on Friday 29 April has resulted in flooding that has left several people dead and caused the collapse of walls and buildings in the city, including a large residential building in the district of Huruma.

Huruma Building Collapse

The six-story residential building collapsed late on Friday 29 April, 2015. Many are feared dead or missing, although it is unknown how many people were in the building at the time of the collapse. Some reports say that there were around 120 rooms in the building.

The Kenya Red Cross (KRCS) were quickly on the scene to carry out search and rescue operations, amidst what they described as “chaotic scenes”. Firefighters, military personnel and National Youth Service members were also on the scene. Late on Friday there were reports that 3 children and 1 adult had been rescued from the building and taken to Kenyatta National Hospital. Earlier today, Saturday 30 April, KRCS said that two more survivors were pulled from the debris of the collapsed building.

KRCS said that approximately 150 households have been affected in the area, with many of them currently camping at the chief’s camp in Kinyago village, Eastleigh.

Tracing the Missing

Desks have been set up at the CDF Hall in Huruma, staffed by personnel from KRCS to help families and friends trace their loved ones and to help with counselling of victims and families. There is also a telephone hotline to report missing persons – Telephone: +254 715 820 219.

The latest disaster is an almost identical repeat of the tragedy that struck last year when a Nairobi building collapsed in the early hours of Tuesday, 12 May 2015 after floods and torrential rain. At least 9 people were killed in the collapse.

Photos of the Huruma Building Collapse

Nairobi Floods – Four Dead, Thousands Displaced

Elsewhere in the city, the floods have forced thousands from their homes and left at least 4 people dead.

KRCS Nairobi branch says it has began conducting assessment in Mathare and Mukuru following the heavy rains. It is estimated that about 1000 households have been affected in the two areas.

According to KRCS, the Nairobi and Ngong rivers overflowed yesterday, “affecting Hazina, Fuata Nyayo, Land Mawe, Industrial Area, South C and Enterprise Road”.

The flooding caused chaos on the city’s streets. Several roads entering and exiting the city are seriously flooded and vehicles are literally stuck in flood waters. The worst affected roads include Dennis Pritt Road, Lenana Road, Bunyala Road, Commercial Street and parts of Uhuru highway.

In the Kilimani area, 3km from the city centre, a perimeter wall in the neighbourhood of Russian Embassy and Department of Defence (DoD) offices collapsed, killing at least four people and leaving 3 others injured.

The injured were rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment, according to the Kilimani chief of police, quoted by local media.

Turkana, Wajir and Marsabit Counties

In Turkana county, 312 homes have been destroyed by flash floods in Kalokol ward, Turkana central sub county, leaving thousands displaced, according to KRCS. Two major roads were cut off by floods making assessment and response difficult to carry out in the affected areas.

Flooding has also been reported in Wajir county, where roads have been blocked, and also in Marsabit county, where two boys are missing.

Forecasts and Warnings

Flood warning and advisory updates by the Kenya Meteorological Services had informed people that there was at least 80% probability of occurrence of heavy rains.

Further heavy rain is expected over the coming days. A five day forecast by the Kenya Meteorological service indicates continued precipitation in several parts of the country and many people are likely to be inconvenienced as they anticipate to attend annual labour day celebration rallies in various counties this weekend.

- Floodlist.   

EXTREME WEATHER: More Signs Of Increasing Magnetic Polar Migration - Lightning Bolt Kills 2 And Injures 3 On Boat In Bangladesh; And Lightning Bolt Kills Worker At Construction Site In Slidell, Louisiana!

April 30, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports on deadly lightning strikes across the planet.

Lightning bolt kills 2 and injures 3 on boat in Bangladesh

Two people were killed and at least three others injured when a streak of lightning struck their small boat in the middle of the Jamuna River in Fulchhari upazila of the district on Wednesday night.

Quoting the co-passengers of the boat, police said a thunderbolt hit the boat with 10/12 passengers onboard in the middle of the river near Zigabari area around 11:00pm, leaving Golap and Bhikhu dead and three other injured.

Lightning bolt kills worker at construction site in Slidell, Louisiana

A Louisiana coroner says a man working on a Slidell-area construction site died after being struck by lightning.

St. Tammany Parish coroner Dr. Charles Preston said in a news release that Elvin Arturo Castro-Santiago, 36, was working Wednesday when he was struck.

Preston says Castro-Santiago was taken to Ochsner Northshore where he later died.

Preston says the tragedy underscores the deadly force of nature.

- The Daily Star | KWTX.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake Strikes In Waters Off Taiwan - Not Reported By The USGS! [TECTONIC SUMMARY]

El Comercio/AP

April 30, 2016 - TAIWAN - A 5.6-magnitude earthquake occurred in the waters off Hualien County, Taiwan, at 11:17 p.m. Wednesday (Beijing Time), according to China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The epicenter was located at 24.22 degrees north latitude and 121.71 degrees east longitude. It was measured at a depth of 8 km, according to the center.

Xinhua reporters in Taipei said they felt the tremor and saw buildings shaking.

Just 10 minutes later, another earthquake measuring 4.9 was reported by the CENC at roughly the same site.

Local authorities said four aftershocks had been monitored in the past hour. There have been no casualties reported.

USGS 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).

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.

USGS plate tectonics.

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).

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.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics

- China | USGS.

Friday, April 29, 2016

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Statoil Helicopter Crashes Off Norway Coast - 11 Of 13 On Board Reported Dead!

-- A helicopter has crashed near Fjell . At least 15 passengers feared dead ~NRK
Twitter: Yannis Koutsomitis

April 29, 2016 - NORWAY - Eleven people have been killed in a helicopter crashed off the west coast of Norway near Bergen, AFP reports. A Briton, an Italian and 11 Norwegians were amongst those on board the helicopter, which was totally destroyed on impact.

“We have received many, many reports of a helicopter crash just west of Turoy near Bergen. Many people have reported that they heard an explosion and saw smoke. We can confirm that a helicopter has crashed and that there are people in the sea,” police told the Verdens Gang newspaper.

Norwegian police have told the broadcaster NTB that there were 13 people on board the helicopter when it came down. The area has frequent helicopter traffic servicing offshore oil platforms in the North Sea off the Norwegian coast. The Rescue Coordination Center has yet to receive any information about any survivors.

According to the Bergens Tidende newspaper, police say they have found dead bodies, as the rescue attempts continue. The dead bodies were found on land, though the exact number of those who perished has not been announced.

“We do not know the sequence of events or what the helicopter to come down,” Bjorn Jarle, from the Rescue Coordination Center for South Norway.

Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway.

Reports say there was no problem with the weather as conditions were good for flying, according to local meteorologists.

The helicopter that came down is believed to be a Eurocopter and was owned by the CHC Helicopter Group, which specializes in providing offshore transportation to the oil-and-gas industry.

Norwegian oil company Statoil has confirmed to the Aftonbladet publication that the crashed helicopter came from the Gullfaks B platform - a North Sea oil field operated by Statoil.

Ivar Moen, from the Rescue Coordination Center for South Norway, told Verdens Gang that diving equipment is being brought to help with the rescue operation.

“There are a lot of people who can help in the area, but the Rescue Coordination Center has requested vessels with the capacity to dive. The Norwegian Stealth Frigate, the Otto Sverdrup will help with the rescue attempts and is heading to the area,” he said.

Statoil is setting up an emergency center in Bergen, while it confirmed that 11 of those on board worked for the oil firm.

The oil giant has also said that all helicopters of a similar type to the one that crashed have been temporarily taken out of service.

- RT.


ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - 2 More Oarfish Appear Off Taiwan During Seismic Activity?! [PHOTOS]

Fishermen were stunned after discovering the fish. CEN

April 29, 2016 - TAIWAN - Two rare earthquake fish were thrown out of the water after a ' mud volcano ' erupted off the coast of Taiwan.

The volcano erupted early Thursday morning in the city of Pingtung following a 5.6-magnitude earthquake.

Fishermen were delighted to find the oarfish, also known as earthquake fish, both measuring 4.4 metres - twice as long as beanpole footballer Peter Crouch - and weighing a whopping seven stone.

Four eruption mouths were spotted in a paddy field in Wandan Town and the hot slurry almost destroyed the whole field.

Local villagers dug ditches immediately to drain the slurry away and doubted that the eruption may have a connection with the early earthquake that hit the east coast.

The huge fish both measure more than 4 metres in length. CEN

The fish weighed a whopping seven stone. CEN

The 5.6-magnitude earthquake occurred in the waters off Hualien County, Taiwan at around 11:17pm and in the following several hours, around 30 aftershocks between 3.5 and 5.6 magnitude were spotted.

The latest earthquake monitored at 4 magnitude occurred around 11am on Thursday. There have been no casualties reported.

Experts say that the aftershocks may last two to three days.

"We predict that the mud volcano eruption may last for two to three days. And it may be accompanied by some magnitude 5 earthquakes," said Kuo Kaiwen, director of Taiwan Earthquake Monitoring and Report Center.

- Mirror.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Seismic Activity Increases At Turrialba And Irazu Volcanoes In Costa Rica - 75 EARTHQUAKES In Less Than 12 HOURS!

April 29, 2016 - COSTA RICA - The Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI in Spanish) reported today that the seismic activity at the volcano Turrialba increased in the last hours.

The Observatory recalled that last Saturday, nearly 75 earthquakes took place in less than 12 hours between the Irazu and Turrialba volcanoes.

The National Seismological Network said that so far is been observed the normal steam and gases plume rising from the volcano.

The vapor plume started forming above Turrialba’s crater in the early hours of Thursday, April 28.OVSICORI

After more than a century inactive, seismic activity was recorded at the Turrialba volcano on January 5, 2010.

Turrialba is the second highest volcano in the country after the Irazu is located in the district of Santa Cruz, in the canton of Turrialba, in the province of Cartago.

- Prensa Latina.


ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Wettest April In 15 Years As Colder Than Normal Temperatures Hit The Netherlands!

Wikimedia Commons/Bart Everson

April 29, 2016 - NETHERLANDS - This month was the wettest April the Netherlands has seen in 15 years, according to weather service Weeronline.

The Netherlands had a national average of 65 millimeters of rain, compared to the normal of 44 millimeters.

The region between Zuid-Holland and Groningen got between 80 and 100 millimeters of rain this month. Warffum in Groningen even got 110 millimeters, 2.5 times the normal April rain.

This is the most rain the Netherlands had in April since 2001, when the country got 75 millimeters.

The weather was also too cold for the usual April. The first half of the month was two degrees above average.

But due to the recent cold period, the monthly average is 8.7 degrees, compared to the normal of 9.2 degrees.

Despite the too cold weather and too much rain, the Netherlands actually had more than normal sunshine in April.

The country had 193 hours of sunshine this month, compared to the usual 178 hours.

- NL Times.


MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Global Seismic Uptick - Over 1,000 Earthquakes Recorded In Two Kyushu Prefectures In Japan In Two Weeks Since Initial Jolt!

Self-Defense Forces members collect piled-up waste and debris from streets in the quake-hit city of Kumamoto on Thursday. | KYODO

April 29, 2016 - KYUSHU, JAPAN - More than 1,000 seismic events had been recorded as of Thursday in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures in the two weeks since a magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck central Kyushu, according to the Meteorological Agency.

The frequency, ranging from minor jolts to the magnitude-7.3 temblor that occurred two days after the initial April 14 quake, is unusually high, the agency said, noting the nation’s total last year was 1,842. It warned people should stay alert for more earthquakes.

Major transportation lines have rapidly recovered in the region, with bullet train services on the Kyushu Shinkansen Line resuming on all tracks as of Wednesday. The Kyushu Expressway is expected to fully reopen on Friday.

But repairs to smaller roads have lagged, with rocks, trees and debris from buildings severing routes in at least 295 locations.

Debris generated by the earthquakes has piled up on streets in parts of the city of Kumamoto, with public garbage collection services hard-pressed to cope, prompting the Self-Defense Forces to help haul away waste starting on Thursday.

Some 90 SDF members helped move burnable debris onto privately-run garbage trucks in the morning. They then used seven SDF vehicles to carry home electronics and other nonburnable waste to disposal sites.

Some 30,000 people are still sheltering at evacuation centers in Kumamoto Prefecture. The prefectural government has decided to secure some 4,200 temporary housing units, half through construction and the other half by renting, using a supplementary budget of ¥36.6 billion for fiscal 2016.

While the earthquakes alone have killed 49 people, the prolonged evacuation has also taken a toll, with 16 people suspected to have died as of Wednesday due to illness caused by stress and fatigue and other quake-related causes.

Nearly 100 people have been diagnosed with or suspected to have so-called economy class syndrome, caused by prolonged inactivity, according to a Kyodo News survey.

The central government adopted an ordinance Thursday for extending deadlines for some administrative procedures, including updating driving licenses.

Among the more than 200 special measures expected to be launched based on the ordinance is one to freeze bankruptcy procedures for companies that went bust due to the earthquakes for a maximum of two years. The measure is designed to prevent chain-reaction bankruptcies.

Cabinet ministers plan to visit the quake-hit areas in the coming days to view the damage and help speed up recovery efforts.

Transport minister Keiichi Ishii said Thursday he will visit affected areas Friday and Saturday to inspect damage to local infrastructure and exchange opinions with Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima.

Culture minister Hiroshi Hase will on Sunday visit the city of Kumamoto, home to Kumamoto Castle, a major tourist attraction that suffered severe damage in the quakes.

Internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi will also visit affected areas in Kumamoto Prefecture on Monday and hold talks with Kabashima and Kumamoto Mayor Kazufumi Onishi.

- Japan Times.