Sunday, January 3, 2016

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Snow Blankets Turkey's Hakkari As Temperatures Plunge As Low As -16C!

© Getty Images

January 3, 2016 - TURKEY - It might be a mild winter in the UK, but it's snowing hard in Turkey.

In Hakkari, residents are trying (and often failing) to clear snow off the road and off their cars.

Airline passengers are facing lengthy delays and cancellations and there have been a number of road closures.

Snow storms and extreme weather continue across the city, where temperatures have plunged as low as -16C.

In Instanbul, at least one person has died in an accident related to snow on the roads, and several others have been injured.

WATCH: Snow blankets Turkey's Hakkari.

- Metro.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Death Toll From Storm Goliath In Texas And New Mexico Now Up To 40,000 Head Of Cattle; The Disappearance Of Hawaii's Humpback Whales Baffle Experts; Rare Sighting Of Little Swift Bird In Scotland; Dozens Of Dead Fish Found On Vanderbilt Beach In Florida; Dozens Of Starving Seabirds Found Grounded Inland In Southcentral Alaska; And Dead Pilot Whale Found In Benoit's Cove, Canada?!

Dead cattle in Texas.

January 3, 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.

Death toll from Storm Goliath in Texas and New Mexico up to 40,000 head of cattle

While Ireland battles with widespread flooding, snow and wind in the US has caused havoc on dairy farms.

Storm Goliath tore through Clovis, New Mexico, where Glanbia are involved in cheese manufacture, and Lubbock, Texas last weekend. The storm dumped 22 inches of snow driven by wind speeds of 100km/h, causing havoc on dairy farms where it left over 40,000 dairy cattle dead and closed down most dairies.

News of the disaster took some time to come from the region as producers started clearing the snow on feed passages and dealing with power cuts throughout the area.

Texas Association of Dairymen is contacting state and federal leaders seeking assistance. In addition to the 40,000 dairy cattle lost during the storm, beef cattle feedlots are also affected. The huge loss will make any indemnity program trying to make a real impact to the affected farmers hard to achieve as most of the dairy cattle losses in Texas comes from just three counties. One farmer lost 350 cows and there are 30 other farmers in a similar situation.

The Clovis News Journal reported that the Glanbia-run Southwest Cheese of Clovis operated at just 10% of normal delivery on Monday; it had recovered to 90% on Wednesday. - Irish Farmers Journal.

Mysterious absence: Where are Hawaii's humpback whales?

Humpback whale.© NOAA
December usually marks the start of humpback whale season in Hawaii, but experts say the animals have been slow to return this year.

The giant whales are an iconic part of winter on the islands and a source of income for tour operators. But officials at the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary said they've been getting reports that the whales have been difficult to spot so far.

"This isn't a concern, but it's of interest. One theory was that something like this happened as whales increased. It's a product of their success," said Ed Lyman, a Maui-based resource protection manager and response coordinator for the sanctuary.

"What I'm seeing out there right now I would have expected a month ago," said Lyman, who was surprised by how few of the animals he saw while responding to a call about a distressed calf on Christmas Eve. "We've just seen a handful of whales."

It will be a while before officials have hard numbers because the annual whale counts don't take place until the last Saturday of January, February and March, according to former sanctuary co-manager Jeff Walters.

"They don't necessarily show up in the same place at the same time every year," Walters said.

Brian Powers, a Kailua-Kona aerial photographer who has spent years capturing images of humpbacks from the air, can be counted among those waiting, according to West Hawaii Today.
I've been looking for the last month and have not seen one," he said.

This time of year, cars are usually lined up on the edge of the Akoni Pule Highway as whale watchers gather roadside and on hills to take in the nearshore displays of pec slapping, blows and the giant, lunging breaches of aggressive and amorous males.
More than 10,000 humpback whales make the winter journey from Alaska to the warm waters off Hawaii to mate and give birth.

Lyman said the whales' absence could just mean they're spending more time feeding in northern waters, possibly because of El Nino disruptions or because their population has gone up.

"With more animals, they're competing against each other for that food resource, and it takes an energy of reserve to make that long migration over 2,000 miles," he explained.

In September, The Christian Science Monitor reported after the first sightings of humpbacks in two decades in Long Island Sound in that a joint study done by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) in 2007 indicated that rising water temperatures could cause whale species to "shift their distributions to remain within optimal habitat." - Christian Science Monitor.

Wrong place, wrong time: Rare sighting of little swift near Dunbar in Scotland

Little swift© Michelle and Peter Wong/Wildscreen
A little swift has been spotted in Scotland for only the fourth recorded time.

The bird was discovered at Thortonloch, near Dunbar in East Lothian, on Hogmanay.

The little swift, whose scientific name is apus affinis, breeds from Africa eastwards through southern tropical Asia to western Indonesia.

The bird, which is also known as a house swift, typically nests around buildings and cliffs.  - BBC.

Dozens of dead fish found on Vanderbilt Beach, Florida

Dozens of dead fish are washing up on a popular Naples beach, and people aren't sure why.

Wildlife is common on Vanderbilt Beach, but visitors said this weekend, Mother Nature left them with an unexpected gift.

Some are claiming to have seen at least a hundred dead fish.

We contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about the problem. They directed us to the red tide maps on their website, but those maps currently show no instance of the destructive algae off the Collier coastline.

FWC encourages anyone who sees any large amount of dead fish to report it to their fish-kill hotline.

WATCH: Dead fish wash up on Vanderbilt Beach.

- ABC-7.

Dozens of starving seabirds found grounded inland in Southcentral Alaska

A Common Murre rests on the side of Crystal Lake Road in Willow on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015© Bill Roth / ADN

Normally found skimming the North Pacific, seabirds known as common murres are appearing inland in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and elsewhere in Southcentral Alaska, starving and unable to fly.

Reports of grounded murres have emerged from Moose Pass to north of Talkeetna, with many found this week in the Susitna Valley. The foot-tall black and white birds that resemble small penguins are showing up in odd places -- on the shoulder of busy Knik-Goose Bay Road outside Wasilla, just off a sled dog trail in Willow, tucked up next to a house in Houston.

The influx of murres is inundating local wildlife rehabilitation centers.

On Wednesday alone, 20 murres arrived at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage from Alaska WildBird Rehabilitation Center in Houston, where Susitna Valley residents are bringing grounded birds.

Hundreds of people shared social media posts about the bizarre murre sightings. One Valley resident posted a pathetic photo of a murre on its side in the snow on a Facebook group for Mat-Su lost and found pets with a comment: "This little fella is sitting in our driveway. I'm not sure what's wrong with him but he can't seem to fly away -- he can waddle and that's about it."

Biologists speculate that intense storms this week are driving this latest burst of stranded murres. They say the seabirds may already be pushing away from the ocean in a desperate quest to find food.

"Many of these birds, they're teetering on the edge," said Robb Kaler, a seabird specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage. "When you've got 100 mph winds and you don't have a lot of energy, you are kind of at the whim of the wind."

This most recent wave of murre strandings is part of a broader seabird die-off in coastal Alaska first reported in March and part of a widespread seabird die-off up and down the Pacific coast, possibly due to shortages of squid, krill and little fish the birds usually eat.

Ocean warming is a potential culprit; the body of warm water in the Gulf of Alaska that formed last year and earned the moniker "The Blob" is now expected to join the warm ocean currents of what's predicted to be an extreme El Nino cycle in 2016.

Bird TLC in Anchorage first started taking in "extremely emaciated" murres at the end of October, according to Katie Middlebrook, the center's avian rehabilitation coordinator. Dirt and grit had eliminated the natural oily waterproof layer on their feathers that allows them to survive in frigid northern waters. Necropsies revealed birds with literally zero body fat, Middlebrook said. "These guys are out there, sadly enough, just starving."

Common murres recover at Bird TLC in Anchorage on Wednesday, December 30, 2015.© Loren Holmes/ADN

Those birds needed tube-feeding five times a day and dish soap wash-downs to clean them enough to restore waterproofing on their feathers, she said.

The birds coming in now are in somewhat better shape: not as emaciated, and with waterproofing more intact. Still, it's highly unusual to see murres so far inland. And without water, the birds built for a life at sea can't get off the ground.

The pelagic fish-eating birds are built for water takeoff and landing, so their legs are too short to get a running start on land, Kaler said. "I would say some of these birds are probably running into buildings or trees and falling to the ground."

Some seem to be finding water. Snowmachiners spotted a fairly large flock on the Susitna River. A birder in Talkeetna saw a cluster diving for Dolly Varden or salmon at the confluence of the Chulitna and Talkeetna rivers, Kaler said.

"He reported seeing several dozens of murres foraging," he said. "They'd fly up the river and drift down in the current."

Bird TLC has taken in about 60 murres since the end of October and released 35. They may be saving the birds for a very uncertain fate.

The center planned to send recovered murres to Seward for release into Resurrection Bay but "a lot are showing up dead there," Middlebrook said. Whittier was a release spot several months ago but now dead murres are being spotted on the beaches there too. Media reports describe similar die-offs in Kodiak, Sitka, Cold Bay and Homer.

For now, the best option seems to be setting the murres free at Point Woronzof or near Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Middlebrook said.

There is no one answer to what's happening to the birds at sea.

"That's a huge conversation I've had with our veterinarians. We're putting all this stress on the birds, using all these resources. Are they really going to survive once they're back out there?" she said. "The answer is, we really don't know. At least we're giving them a second chance."

People who find murres or other sick or dead seabirds can call the Office of the State Wildlife Veterinarian at 907-328-8354; the Fish and Wildlife Service's sick or dead bird hotline at 866-527-3358; Bird TLC at 907-562-4852; or the Alaska WildBird Rehabilitation Center at 907-892-2927. - Alaska Dispatch News.

Dead pilot whale found in Benoit's Cove, Canada

A dead whale was found washed ashore at John’s Beach recently.

Brandon Collins, 17, had never seen a dead whale washed ashore before.

So when he heard there was one down at John's Beach, he, along with his brother Trevor and friend Jonathan went to check it out.

When the trio arrived, Collins found the dead mammal, which he thought to be a pilot whale, washed ashore. The teenager estimated that the whale was 15-feet long.

"It was amazing at first because you just don't come across this stuff everyday," said Collins, who lives in Benoit's Cove.

The three stayed at John's Beach for about 20 minutes before leaving. Collins said he didn't notify any authority about the whale and doesn't know if it's still at the beach or not.

"I have no clue where it is right now," said Collins.  - The Western Star.

Dead whale shark discovered on coast of Bukas Grande Island, Philippines

A 24-foot commonly known as butanding was discovered dead along the coastline of the village Pamosaingan in the town Socorro in Bukas Grande Island, one of the islands comprising Siargao, Saturday afternoon.

"I immediately dispatched four of my police personnel to the area and at the same time informed the Municipal Agriculture Office and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resource Office about the dead endangered mammal," said Police Inspector Alvin Caballes, municipal police chief of Socorro.

Caballes said that by Sunday noon, peak of the high tide, the whale shark was buried near the shoreline of Dapja Beach in the same barangay. "The butanding was secured at around 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon and with the help of non-government organizations the endangered whale shark was buried the next day at around 12 noon but finished everything by 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon because of several procedures made by the Large Marine Vertebrates (Lamave) that conducted the necropsy on the animal," he said.

Whale shark. © Wikimedia Commons

This photo from a social media account of Edelito Sangco shows a member of the Large Marine Vertebrates (Lamave) Project-Philippines
measuring the dead whale shark just before it was buried Sunday noon.
© Edelito Sangco

Caballes, who was just installed as the town's police chief last December, said this may be the first time a butanding died in the area but could not confirm if similar incidents happened in other parts of Bukas Grande and Siargao Islands.

Edelito Sangco, of the Socorro Empowered People's Cooperative, pointed out on his social media post that the animal was found entangled in a fishnet.

"Truly, I felt sad with the sight of a member of the largest known fish species in the world measuring 9 feet wide and 24 feet long. According to the net owner Barangay Kagawad Pacquito E. Tatoy, he laid out the net last night and when he, together with his wife, hauled it out this morning, they found the already dead gigantic creature entangled in the fishing gear. They sought the help of the other fishermen from the village who took turns dragging the fish ashore," said Sangco on his social media account Saturday evening. - Interaksyon.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: A Year Of Weather Extremes - Severe Snow Storms, Drought And Floods Ravaged The United States In 2015!

Fire crews ran night operations and controlled burnings to contain the Butte fire in Sheep Ranch Wildfires in California.© Andrew Seng/Rex Shutterstock

January 3, 2016 - UNITED STATES - In the warmest year on record, Mother Nature wrought havoc across the country, with large swaths of the west coast ablaze during the summer and the north-east blanketed in snow for most of the winter

2015 has been the warmest year, globally, on record, with the lower 48 states of the US experiencing their balmiest autumn ever measured.

This kind of exceptional heat provided an appropriate setting for the Paris climate summit, where 196 nations agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the sort of dangerous climate change that contributes to floods, drought and damaging sea level rises.

But the past year has also seen a number of severe natural disasters, climate change-fueled or otherwise, that have battered the US. The Federal Emergency Management Agency issued 77 disaster declarations in 2015. Here are some of the disasters that tested Americans this year.

January snow storms

During winter storm Juno in the Boston’s South End, Mike Poremba walks his dog Cali past snow-covered cars.© Boston Globe via Getty Images

For New Yorkers, the snow in January was something of a near-miss - US National Weather Service warnings of a "potentially historic blizzard" proved erroneous. The subway was shut and driving was banned for what turned out to be just a light coating of snow.

But for those in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts, there was no such escape. Thousands of people lost power, flights were canceled and sports events were called off as more than 2ft of snow settled in parts of the region. High winds and coastal flooding, with winds gusting to 80 mph in Massachusetts, pounded the Atlantic coast. For many cities in New England, winter storm Juno, as the blizzard was unofficially dubbed, was one of the heaviest snowstorms on record, with at least two people dying as an indirect result of the conditions.

Boston was smothered by snow, with February its snowiest month on record. In total, around 8ft of snow fell on the city, which ran out of places to dump cleared snow. This immense downfall prompted several people to throw themselves from their windows into huge snowdrifts - while videoing the experience, of course. Mayor Marty Walsh was enraged: "This isn't Loon Mountain, this is the city of Boston!"

Tropical storm Bill

Flooding in Galveston, Texas, as seen from a coast guard helicopter after Tropical Storm Bill made landfall.© US coast guard/Reuters

The drought in California would have been far from the minds of people in Texas and Oklahoma, who experienced their wettest May on record, only for it to be followed by Tropical Storm Bill.

The tropical cyclone formed in the Gulf of Mexico on 16 June and swept northwards after making landfall in Texas in the following days. A huge amount of rain was dumped upon Texas and Oklahoma, peaking at 13.2in near El Campo, Texas. The rain brought flooding that killed two people, rockslides that closed highways and gusts of over 60 mph.

West coast wildfires

A long-exposure picture shows a backfire in an attempt to battle the so-called Rocky fire near Clearlake Oaks, California© Noah Berger/EPA

The state of Washington endured its largest ever wildfire season in 2015, with a pall of smoke hanging over Seattle acting as a constant reminder of the flames that burned through more than 1m acres of the state.

The fires were declared a federal emergency on 21 August, with the US army deployed to help firefighters tackle the blazes. Three firefighters died in the course of their duties, while thousands of people were displaced. A cluster of blazes had destroyed more than 170 homes by 1 September. The fires followed a prolonged dry period in the state.

Further south, more than 6,000 fires had taken hold in California by November, burning through more than 300,000 acres. A state of emergency was declared due to the intense fires in Amador and Calaveras counties. Seven people and two firefighters died.

South Carolina floods

DNR officer Brett Irvin and Lexington County deputy Dan Rusinyak carry June Loch to dry land after she was rescued from her home in Columbia, South Carolina
© Tim Dominick/Rex Shutterstock

Disastrous flooding claimed 17 lives in October - 15 in South Carolina and two in North Carolina. Record rainfall, spurred by low pressure and Hurricane Joaquin, dumped 20in of rain in some parts of South Carolina. This led to widespread flooding, causing $12bn in damage, a loss that governor Nikki Haley called "disturbing". More than 160,000 homes were hit by the floods, with around 400,000 people required to boil their water to avoid an outbreak of disease.


An elephant trunk tornado on the move on 29 May in Milnesand, New Mexico© Marko Korosec/Barcroft USA

2015 has been an unusually quiet year for tornadoes. As of 22 December, only 10 people had died from tornadoes in the US. That was the fewest deaths in more than a century and well below the average of the past 10 years, which stands at 110 deaths per year, according to the National Weather Service. (Dallas tornadoes and associated traffic accidents, however, left an additional 11 dead this weekend.)

The periodic El NiƱo climate phenomenon, which is currently in effect, is thought to subdue Atlantic hurricanes, which can then spawn tornadoes. One of the most destructive tornadoes in 2015 occurred at the River Oaks mobile home park in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, in March. The strongest ripped through Rochelle, Illinois, in April.

California drought

A field of dead almond trees is seen in Coalinga in the Central Valley, California© Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Drought is a very slow-moving disaster - California is in its fourth year of drought and there haven't been any destroyed homes or swaths of deaths as a result. But the impacts are severe. In some parts of California's Central Valley - an area that produces around 40% of the US's fruits, nuts and vegetables - water-starved farmers have taken to drilling for water to such a degree that the land is sinking at a rate of 2 inches a month.

Far-reaching water consumption cuts have been placed on households but the state is still losing water - the University of California estimates that 4tn gallons of water have been lost from the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins since the drought began in 2011.

The lack of water has been mirrored by a dearth of snow. In September, scientists estimated that the amount of snow in the Sierra Nevada was the lowest in more than 500 years. - The Guardian.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Man Survives Gruesome Shark Attack Off The Coast Of Queensland, Australia; Oregon Attack Owl Returns With A New Target; Man Dies After Being Attacked At Home In Preston, England By His Own Dog; Runaway Pigs Block Chinese Highway For Hours?!

Serious but stable: The man bravely fought off the predator. © ABC

January 3, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of animal attacks on humans.

Man survives gruesome shark attack off the coast of Queensland, Australia

A man survived a gruesome shark attack by punching the beast several times.

The 31-year-old suffered severe wounds to his arms and legs in the attack while swimming in the sea off the coast of northeast Australia today.

The spear fisherman survived by punching the deadly predator off Miall Island near Rosslyn Bay, 670km north of Brisbane in Queensland, local coast guard commander Arthur Hunt said.

He said: "He was snorkeling a bit off the beach and said he saw a lot of fish and then the shark came out of nowhere.

Shark attack: The victim is in a serious but stable condition.

"It's the first shark attack we've had up here in a while - I've been with the coastguard for seven years and this is my first."

The coastguard rescued the man from the water and took him back to the beach, where they were met by an ambulance. The man was rushed to hospital and is in a serious but stable condition after surgery, reports Irish Mirror.

Ambulance officer Brad Miers said: "It seems like he has tried to fight the shark off for a considerable amount of time."

Coastguard deputy flotilla commander Paul Florian said the man was helped back into his boat by friends.

He explained: "The coast gard boat happened to be nearby because it was out doing a training run.

"We transferred the person to the coast guard boat and then transported him back to the pontoon
at Rosslyn Bay Harbour, where they were met by paramedics."

There were 22 shark attacks recorded in Australia last year, according to Taronga Zoo in Sydney. - Daily Mail.

Owlcapone strikes again! Oregon attack owl returns with a new target – gov’t workers

© Wikipedia

A barred owl that gained notoriety earlier this year for attacking joggers in a Salem, Oregon park is on the prowl again, but this time it’s targeting government workers outside the state capitol. Three people have been clawed by the predator – so far.

“It’s silent. You’re just walking along, minding your own business, and an owl comes silently at you from behind,” Tibby Larson, Salem’s city parks department spokeswoman, told Reuters.

The most recent series of attacks began in late November.

“If you’re in that neighborhood, we’re advising you to wear a hat or carry an umbrella,” Larson added.

One of the victims, Dwight French, who works for the state Water Resources Department, told Oregon’s Statesman Journal that he was jogging from his office to a parking garage when he felt a bump on his head. He turned around and saw an owl fly into the trees and stare at him. As he crossed the street, the owl hit him again and then a third time.

“At that moment it was just really bizarre and kind of scary for a minute,” he told the Statesman Journal.

French sustained several little cuts and said it looks like he “got a really violent haircut.”

David Craig, a biology professor and animal behavior specialist at Willamette University, said this is the time of year when owls and eagles are courting and establishing their territory, which makes them aggressive. They lay eggs as early as February.

Dive-bombing owl attacks return to Oregon city 
Twitter: 247newsonline

This isn’t the first time that owls and people have collided in Oregon, however. Owl attacks made news headlines last January and February when a barred owl attacked four joggers using a hill in Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, a mile and half away from the current sky bombings. Alarmed and concerned, park keepers began posting flyers about the owl attacks, which caught the attention of comedy writers for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, which aired a segment on wacky politics in Oregon. Maddow suggested the city should post vivid yellow warning signs using the iconic pedestrian stick figure bent forward on a run. Hovering above was an owl in fast pursuit with claws extended like a bird of prey.Salem officials liked the idea so much they secured the rights to it and created 20 signs, which they installed around the park.The owl’s escapades prompted the Statesman Journal to launch a naming competition for its readers, who dubbed the bird of prey Owlcapone. The predator subsequently became immortalized through T-shirts and several beers named in its honor.

Professor Craig said there is no way of knowing if the owl that attacked French is the notorious Owlcapone establishing a new home or another barred owl.

Police in Salem are monitoring reports of owl attacks, but “we haven’t arrested any owls,” spokesman Lieutenant Dave Okada told Reuters. - RT.

Man dies after being attacked at home in Preston, England by his own dog while having an epileptic fit

Police at the scene in Dundonald Street in Preston, Lancashire. © Lauren Brown/PA Wire

The family of a man who died after he was attacked by his dog whilst suffering an epileptic fit have paid tribute to a "happy lad who was always smiling".

Liam Hewitson, 22, of Preston in England, was mauled by his dog Trigger after suffering a fit when he was at home alone, police said.

He sustained significant injuries to his face and neck and died at the scene.

In a tribute his family said: "Liam was a happy lad who was always smiling and had lots of friends. He had a beautiful personality and he will be missed by his dad Phil, girlfriend Jess and sisters Melissa and Aleisha and brother Cordell."

Police have confirmed there will not be a criminal investigation and they are treating the incident as "a tragic accident".

The dog, which was a male pit bull cross and not a banned breed, is thought to have been around five or six years old and had belonged to Liam since its birth.

Following the incident it was put down by vets.

One neighbour in Dundonald Street, Maureen Glaubitz, 78, said she believed the dog was an American pit bull but it had not shown a "vicious side".

However a warning sign on the terraced property's gate read "beware of the dog".

Mrs Glaubitz said: "He was a lovely lad. He would say to me, 'if you need anything Maureen, don't be afraid to ask'.

"It was a lovely dog, was Trigger, the dog was all right. I think it was an American pit bull, because I said to him I'm always a little bit wary of these kind of dogs. He said, 'he is all right, he has gone through the tests'. It must be the tests with the police they go through to be able to keep them.

"I could stroke him, I sent him some stuff over for him for Christmas, I used to take him bones across."

She added that Mr Hewitson suffered from epilepsy.

She said: "It's very sad. From what somebody told me, Liam had an epileptic fit. One of his mates said he has had a fit and in my own thinking ... it's upset the dog and the dog in its own way probably thinking to help him."

On Facebook the victim's girlfriend Jessica Hill, 23, said: "Rip my baby boy love you forever & always babe."

She told the Daily Mail she had "no words".

"I'm too devastated to speak. I just love and miss him so much," she said.

Mrs Glaubitz added that Trigger had been a "popular" dog who had been allowed on the street during the summer.

"As far as I know it was his dog, he was lovely. I never saw any vicious side to the dog. They have put him to sleep which I suppose is understandable."

Friends of Mr Hewitson continued to lay flowers outside the property.

One read: "1 of the greatest guy ever exist!!! RIP Liam my friend." - Irish Independent.

Runaway pigs block Chinese highway for hours

Dozens of pigs were seen running loose after truck carrying animals overturned on the Ankang-Baomao Expressway in Shaanxi Province on December 30, forcing shutdown of the highway for several hours.

WATCH: Runaway pigs block Chinese highway for hours.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Seven Feet Of Snow Closes Roads In Naran, Pakistan!

January 3, 2016 - PAKISTAN - Residents of Naran valley on Thursday stuck as all communication lines and roads have been blocked because of heavy snowfall which was more than seven feet.

According to the residents of Naran valley a large number of locals have migrated to other cities of Hazara division while some of the people are still residing in the area despite the hardships of the weather and shortage of firewood.

General Councilor of Naran valley Muhammad Haneef while talking to media alleged that after the heavy snowfall, electricity and PTCL lines have been completely damaged and mobile phone companies have also stopped their operation in the area.

Muhammad Haneef demanded from the government to immediately restore the mobile phone service and also bound mobile phone companies to continue their operation during the winter season to provide a communication link between the people of Naran and Kaghan valley.

He further alleged that people are also facing severe shortage of firewood, medicines, food items which make their life more miserable.

He also demanded from KPK government to immediately announce relief for the people of Naran and provide them firewood, medicines, food items and restore road network and communication link. - AAJ.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Very Strong 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Hit China According To China Earthquake Networks Centre - USGS Records Tremor As A 5.7 Magnitude!

USGS earthquake location.

January 3, 2016 - CHINA - A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit China on Saturday, said the China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC).

The quake hit Mudanjiang city of northeast China's Heilongjiang province at 12.22 a.m. (local time) on Saturday, Xinhua reported.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The epicentre was monitored at 44.81 degrees north latitude and 129.95 degrees east longitude, with a depth of 580 km, according to the CENC. - Times of India.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Mississippi Flood Surge Rushes South As St. Louis Cleans Up - Moving At TEN TIMES The Speed Of Niagara Falls; 2 More Levees Succumbs; Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Signs EMERGENCY DECLARATION Requesting Federal Assistance; At Least 25 People Killed So Far!

A flooded-out football field is seen at the Jefferson County Youth Association on Jan. 2, 2016 in Arnold, Missouri.© Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images

January 3, 2016 - MISSOURI, UNITED STATES - The swollen Mississippi River was pushing downstream at 10 times the speed of the Niagara Falls on Saturday, threatening more floods in rural southern Missouri and Illinois.

Two more levees along its course succumbed Friday, bringing to at least 11 the number of levee failures. In Arnold, Missouri, an estimated 150 homes were underwater.

Speaking in the water-logged town of Eureka, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Saturday that he had signed an emergency declaration requesting federal assistance to remove debris.

"Before you can rebuild, you've got to remove the debris," he said, adding that thousands of homes and hundreds of businesses had taken in rubble from the floodwaters.

"When you see a historic flood, we are committed to a historic response," he said.

The flood, fueled by more than 10 inches of rain over a three-day period that began last weekend, is blamed for at least 25 deaths, 15 of which were in Missouri. The worst of the dangerous, deadly winter flood has been in the St. Louis area, leaving residents of several communities to assess damage, clean up and figure out how to bounce back — or in some cases, where to live.

Traffic moves freely in both directions along Interstate 44 at Highway 141 after floodwaters from the Meramec River receded in St. Louis on Jan. 1, 2016.© David Carson / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Associated Press

On Friday, searchers found the body of a teenager in central Illinois: Devan R. Everett, 18, who had been missing since Monday when he and another teen disappeared while driving a pickup truck.

The search continued for the other teen, as well as two men in Missouri and a country music singer in Oklahoma. Craig Strickland, the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country rock band Backroad Anthem, disappeared during storms Sunday while duck hunting.

"Our biggest concern is looking out for those who haven't evacuated," U.S. Coast Guard officer Nicholas Litchfield told NBC News.

WATCH: Mississippi flood surge rushes South as St. Louis cleans up.

The surge in water from the flooding was expected to hit cities further south, such as Memphis, Tennessee, during next week. Meanwhile, other areas experienced some relief. Receding waters enabled the Missouri Department of Transportation to reopen all of Interstate 55, which had been closed Wednesday to allow crews to place sandbags and pumps because it was in danger of being overtaken by the Meramec River.

A spokesperson told The Associated Press that typically, 76,000 vehicles pass through the area on a daily basis.

Interstate 44, which had also been closed for two days over a 24-mile stretch, was also drying up, and reopened later Friday. A state of emergency for St. Louis County was lifted Friday.

Nixon called the flood a "devastating force."

"I've just never seen anything this high," he said. - NBC News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 4.5 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Off California Coast - USGS!

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January 3, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.3 struck off the California coast on Friday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck about 44 miles southwest of Eureka, Calif., at 9:11 p.m., according to the USGS.

The quake struck just off the Northern California coast in the Pacific Ocean.

There was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the West Coast following the temblor, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

Later Friday, a smaller quake struck in the Bay Area.

According to the USGS, a quake with magnitude 2.5 struck 6 miles north of Pittsburg at 10:38 p.m. - San Francisco Chronicle.