Tuesday, January 26, 2016

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: "It's Bloomin' Incredible" Say Botanists - More Than 600 Species Of British Flowers Were In Bloom On New Year's Day; USUALLY IT'S 20-30; Occurrence WITHOUT PRECEDENT; Scientists ASTONISHED; Mass Out-Of-Time Flowering In The MIDDLE OF WINTER Is Considered A SUBSTANTIAL CLIMATIC SHIFT; Botanist Ask "WHAT'S THE WORLD COMING TO"?!

Hawthorn has been spotted in flower at New Year, a whole five months earlier than expected © Alamy

January 26, 2016 - BRITAIN - Nature Studies: In a normal winter botanists would expect no more than 20 to 30 plants to have been in flower

It's unheard-of: after the warmest and wettest December on record, more than 600 species of British wildflowers were in bloom on New Year's Day 2016, a major survey has shown.

In a normal cold winter, botanists would expect no more than 20 to 30 types of wild plants to be in flower in the British Isles at the year's end - species such as daisy, dandelion and gorse.

But a survey by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) has discovered that on 1 January, no fewer than 612 species were actually flowering, including some from late spring and high summer - an occurrence which seems to be without precedent, and has left plant scientists astonished.

"It's incredible," said Kevin Walker, the BSBI's Head of Science. "I've never seen anything like it."

Just like December's astounding weather regime of record rainfall and warmth, the mass out-of-time flowering is suggestive of a substantial climatic shift. "It is what might be expected with climate change," Dr Walker said.

The appearance of many familiar and well-loved springtime species was a complete surprise: cowslips and cow parsley were both recorded four months early, normally appearing in April, while yellow archangel, bulbous buttercup and red campion are all expected in May.

Red campion (Silene dioica) was unusually in bloom on New Year’s Day, 2016.© Alamy

But most remarkable of all for Dr Walker was the discovery, in 17 locations, of hawthorn in bloom - which is known as the mayflower for its normal flowering month.

"I've been monitoring these things for at least the last 20 years, and I've never heard of hawthorn being seen in flower at New Year," he said. "I doubt if many botanists have ever seen it. I would be surprised if I saw hawthorn in March. What's the world coming to?"

The BSBI survey, known as the New Year Plant Hunt, was detailed and wide ranging. It involved 500 BSBI members and other wild flower enthusiasts who spent three hours on New Year's Day looking for species in bloom, all across Britain from the Hebrides to the Channel Islands.

Their efforts resulted in 400 lists (as some people worked in groups) containing 612 species in total; many lists had 60-70 species on them, with one recorder noting 100 species at Swanage in Dorset, while one of Britain's leading plant scientists, Professor Mick Crawley of Imperial College, recorded no fewer than 153 species in the London area.

Horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) was one species flowering five months late.© Alamy

One of the difficulties of assessing the results, Dr Walker said, was that there is as yet no long-running baseline of British plants in flower at New Year against which the 2016 findings can be measured. "Our only baseline is what we know of a flower from all the floras [technical handbooks] - and the literature says there are only 20 to 30 species in Britain expected to be in flower all the year round."

In the event, 1 January 2016 saw more than 20 times as many species in bloom. They can be divided, said Dr Walker, into early- and late-flowering examples - the late-flowering species being those which have straggled on since the summer, in the absence of the frosts which would normally have killed them off.

Roughly 75 per cent of the species found were regarded as late, about 20 per cent were early, and five per cent were on time.

Remarkable examples of later flowering species included the grass meadow fescue, which normally flowers in June and was thus six months late, and three species all five months late: pineapple weed, ivy broomrape and horseshoe vetch.

This last, an example of which was found in flower near Beer in South Devon, is particularly unusual, as it is associated with hot summer days on chalk downland, where it is the larval food plant of the chalkhill blue butterfly.

"What on earth is that doing flowering in the middle of the winter?" said Dr Walker. "It's just crazy."

The BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt is a piece of "citizen science" which is likely to expand and become a valuable tool for measuring environmental change, in the same way that the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch and Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count are already showing changes in their respective areas. - The Independent.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Disaster Precursors - Thousands Of Starfish Wash Ashore Port St. Joe, Florida?! [VIDEO]

Dead starfish

January 26, 2016 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - For Bud and Susan Whiten, a stroll on the beach in Port St. Joe early Sunday afternoon turned out to be a little fishy.

"We walk this beach every day if we can, preferably at low tide, looking for shell, coral, whatever we can see because it's a beautiful nature area," Susan Whiten said.

But they said their trip to the beach left them star struck.

"We saw what looked to be a whole lot of shells that had washed up, but it was actually thousands of starfish," Whiten said. "I just couldn't imagine that there would be any starfish left as many as we saw. It was just unbelievable."

"I've never seen it like this before," Mike Forbess, a resident from Callaway, said. "There's just thousands upon thousands of them. We walked on the beach for maybe a quarter mile, and it was just solid dead starfish."The Whitens said they saw thousands of starfish lined up and down the shoreline about a mile east of the public access point at St. Joe Bay.

But Whiten and others say they hope to not see other creatures show up on shore.

"I just hope that we don't see another specimen wash up like we did these," Whiten said. "We do see occasional horseshoe crab and sea slugs, but we just hope that there aren't a lot of these that wash up."

"I hate to see it, but I guess it's just part of nature," Forbess said.

WATCH: Thousands of starfish wash ashore Florida beach.

WJHG/WECP spoke with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials about the case.

They said they receive calls about similar cases every so often.

Researchers said environmental factors such as temperature change or the recent case of red tide could've caused the starfish to wash ashore.

FWC officials said they plan on studying the area in general after researching this particular case. - WJHG.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake Strikes Off Papua New Guinea - USGS! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

January 26, 2016 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA - An earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck off the Pacific Ocean nation of Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The earthquake, about 169 km (105 miles) southeast of the town of Rabaul, hit at a depth of 46 km (29 miles).

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

USGS shakemap intensity.

USGS has downgraded the quake to 5.8. - Reuters.

Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity

The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.

Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.

USGS plate tectonics.

Further east at the New Britain trench, the relative motions of several microplates surrounding the Australia-Pacific boundary, including north-south oriented seafloor spreading in the Woodlark Basin south of the Solomon Islands, maintain the general northward subduction of Australia-affiliated lithosphere beneath Pacific-affiliated lithosphere. Most of the large and great earthquakes east of New Guinea are related to this subduction; such earthquakes are particularly concentrated at the cusp of the trench south of New Ireland. 33 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900, including three shallow thrust fault M8.1 events in 1906, 1919, and 2007.

The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.

Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than 100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.

The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.

In the east, this boundary extends from the Kai Islands to Sumba along the Timor trough, offset from the Sunda trench by 250 km south of Sumba. Contrary to earlier tectonic models in which this trough was interpreted as a subduction feature continuous with the Sunda subduction zone, it is now thought to represent a subsiding deformational feature related to the collision of the Australia plate continental margin and the volcanic arc of the Eurasia plate, initiating in the last 5-8 Myr. Before collision began, the Sunda subduction zone extended eastward to at least the Kai Islands, evidenced by the presence of a northward-dipping zone of seismicity beneath Timor Leste. A more detailed examination of the seismic zone along it's eastern segment reveals a gap in intermediate depth seismicity under Timor and seismic mechanisms that indicate an eastward propagating tear in the descending slab as the negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere detaches from positively buoyant continental lithosphere. On the surface, GPS measurements indicate that the region around Timor is currently no longer connected to the Eurasia plate, but instead is moving at nearly the same velocity as the Australia plate, another consequence of collision.

Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - In A Strange Case Of Wrong Time, Wrong Place, A Dark-Sided Flycatcher From East Asia Found Wintering On Iceland?!

Dark-sided Flycatcher.

January 26, 2016 - ICELAND - "I had no idea what kind of bird we were looking at, it was so weird," says ornithologist Brynjúlfur Brynjúlfsson at the South East Iceland Bird Watching Centre.

He is the first person to have spotted a Dark-Sided Flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica) in Western Europe.

The Dark-Sided Flycatcher is a resident of Asia.
© Björn Arnarson

The species, according to Wikipedia, breeds in South-East Siberia west to beyond Lake Baikai as well as in Mongolia, China, North Korea and Japan.

Their wintering range includes India, Bangladesh, southern China, Taiwan, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines.

Vagrant birds have been previously recorded as far as Alaska and Bermuda. - Iceland Monitor.

OMEN: Plagues & Pestilences - The Biggest Plague Of Locusts In 60 YEARS Strikes Northern Argentina?!

 A swarm of locusts in September in the Lavalle area of Santiago del Estero Province, Argentina. Farmers last year reported
seeing swarms that were four miles wide and two miles high. Credit: © SENASA

January 26, 2016 - ARGENTINA - Farmers and fumigators in Argentina are running out of time as they scramble to control the country's worst plague of locusts in more than half a century, officials warned on Monday.

The provincial authorities and Senasa, the government's agricultural inspection agency, have intensified their efforts to exterminate swarms of the insects in the dry forests of northern Argentina. But their attempts might not be enough to prevent the locusts from developing into a flying throng in the coming days — when they will then threaten to devour crops like sunflowers and cotton, and grasslands for cattle grazing.

"It's the worst explosion in the last 60 years," Diego Quiroga, the agriculture agency's chief of vegetative protection, said in a telephone interview. "It's impossible to eradicate; the plague has already established itself. We're just acting to make sure it's the smallest it can be and does the least damage possible."

Small pockets of locusts, which first appeared last June, at the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, have spread across an area of northern Argentina about the size of Delaware. The mild and rainy winter here created comfortable breeding conditions for the locusts; their surge outpaced the ability of the authorities to control the spread of the insects.

Farmers last year reported locust clouds that were more than four miles long and nearly two miles high, said Juan Pablo Karnatz, a representative for the Province of Santiago del Estero at the Rural Confederations of Argentina, which represents more than 100,000 farmers here.

In the past five years, Senasa, the agricultural agency, has seen an increase in the numbers of insects that can destroy crops — like fruit flies that threaten citrus groves — as a result of warmer, wetter winters.

Mr. Quiroga pointed to a warning last November by the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency, which said climate change would contribute to locust plagues in Africa. "There is clearly an impact in our country, too," he said. "We are definitely being affected."

Many farmers here blame the coming plague on the previous government of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, saying officials failed to take last year's warnings seriously enough. There is no study yet that shows climate change has led to the increase in locust populations, said Paola Carrizo, a professor of agronomy at the University of Buenos Aires, explaining that a more likely cause was insufficient pest control by Senasa.

The specter of locusts haunts Argentina's farmers, who for almost 200 years have resorted to rustic methods like bonfires to drive away menacing swarms. A government program to combat locusts, set up in 1891 under President Carlos Pellegrini, is believed to be one of Argentina's oldest agricultural policies.

After years relatively free from locusts, farmers are again bracing themselves for the worst. Senasa has set up a hotline to report sightings of the insects. And in meetings this month to coordinate a response to the plague, officials in Argentina have been emphasizing the havoc locusts can wreak by digging out sepia-toned photographs of past plagues.

Fumigators equipped with backpack sprayers intensified their efforts last week. They have extinguished pockets of young locusts, which cannot yet fly, only hop, in 66 locations in northern provinces of Argentina. The dry forests there are largely impenetrable, however, so it is unclear how many other pockets have gone undiscovered.

In 10 days, the locusts are expected to grow to about two inches and mature into voracious flying swarms in search of food. Once that happens, combating the plague would be a more complex operation, Mr. Quiroga said, requiring fumigating aircraft to poison the swarms.

"We don't know exactly where we're at," said Mr. Karnatz, the farmers' representative, who has been involved in coordinating a response to the plague. "We may have contained some pockets, but it's not a definitive victory."

He warned, "If they fly, it could be disastrous." - New York Times.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Flooding In Argentina Leaves Coastal Areas Crawling With Thousands Of Poisonous Snakes!

Snake invasion off the coast of Buenos Aires© REUTERS/ Enrique Marcarian

January 26, 2016 - ARGENTINA - An invasion of poisonous snakes washed downriver in recent floods forced authorities to close beaches to summer holidaymakers in northern Argentina, officials said on Monday.

Floodwaters in the Rio Plata and Rio Parana carried a species of water lily and with it countless crawling, slithering creatures, south to beaches at the mouths of those rivers near Buenos Aires.

"We are raising awareness of the risk and danger present today. There are otters and species of snakes that are poisonous," said Matias Leyes, an official in the coastal town of Quilmes, south of the capital.

"The beaches of Quilmes have been closed as a precaution. We were cleaning up the coast during the week and while doing so we saw the snakes under the water lilies."Inland river beaches were also closed over the weekend in the northern city of Rosario, Santa Fe province.

Locals there spotted displaced animals such as otters, a wild boar and a fox cub as well as snakes, scorpions and stinging insects.

Water covered the beaches and even the terraces of seaside bars
in Rosario, as summer temperatures reached 40°C.

"It is dangerous because when there is not much beach there is more risk of coming into direct contact with rodents or snakes, whose dens are all flooded," said Gonzalo Ratner, a top civil defence official in Rosario.

Experts have blamed severe flooding in recent weeks in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay on the El Nino extreme weather phenomenon. - News 24.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Massive Sinkhole Damages Interstate 8 In San Diego, Closing Several Lanes!

A workman places a pipe into the large sinkhole next to I-8.
© Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune

January 26, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - Two lanes on eastbound Interstate 8 in San Diego have reopened as crews repair a sinkhole near San Diego State University.

A large sinkhole opened on the right shoulder of the freeway Thursday, snarling traffic for miles as crews worked to repair the pit.

The hole, estimated to be 20 feet by 30 feet, and 20 feet deep, formed between College Avenue and Waring Road in College Area about 10:10 a.m., CHP Officer Tommy Doerr said.

Lanes closest to the sinkhole remained closed in case the cavity widened underneath the freeway, Caltrans spokesman Edward Cartagena said.

Crews later learned the space had spread about two feet under the farthest right lane.

WATCH: Sinkhole on Interstate 8.

A Caltrans geologist will analyze the hole and the surrounding area to try to determine what caused it, Cartagena said.

An irrigation pipe that was exposed when the sinkhole formed was not in use.

The eastbound Waring Road onramp, which initially was closed, also reopened Friday morning.

The remaining blocked lanes will stay closed into Friday afternoon while workers fill the hole and repave the interstate. - Los Angeles Times.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Woman Almost Loses Hands During Horrific Dog Attack In East Cork, Ireland?!

January 26, 2016 - IRELAND - Officers were called to a house on Upper Cork Street in Mitchelstown in East Cork shortly after 9 am yesterday morning where it is understood a Bull Mastiff breed attacked the woman in 20s.

The victim was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to save her hands, which were badly injured in the attack.She remains there in a stable condition.

It is understood that the dog involved in the attack was the family pet, and that it belonged to the woman’s partner.

The animal has since been put down.

According to Gardaí the incident is under investigation, though no formal complaint has yet been made.

Reports say the alarm was first raised when neighbours heard the victim screaming for help.

Rushing into the backyard of a property on Upper Cork St, Gardaí from the Mitchelstown Station were initially unable to pry the dog off the woman.

Forced to draw their batons, the officers struck the animal repeatedly until it ended its attack.

The Bull Mastiff is one of 11 dogs on the controlled breeds list in Ireland. - Independent.

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: Huge Waves Hit Already Battered Pacifica Coastline In California - Geological Upheavals, As Cliff Collapse Forces Evacuation; High Surf Advisory In Effect! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Residents of Pacifica, California who have been forced to evacuate their homes after heavy rains caused a coastal cliff collapse.

January 26, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - Massive waves have been relentless in Pacifica.

Sky 7 HD was over the coastal town Saturday and it showed where recent storms damaged a sea wall and threatened homes.

A high surf advisory is in effect in Pacifica until 10 p.m. El Nino-enhanced storms have pounded the city's coastline, forcing a local state of emergency.

Since Dec. 15, storms have damaged the Pacifica Pier, the Milagra watershed and caused a massive sinkhole. Big boulders have been put in that hole as a temporary fix.

Apartments on the eroding cliffs of Esplanade Avenue are also threatened. They were condemned several years ago. New properties near those apartments could be next.

STORMWATCH: This morning's high tides continue to pound the coastal city of Pacifica, which declared a state of emergency on Friday.
The city says the heavy rains and high surf is creating daily reports of damage. http://abc7ne.ws/1lFJfst
Twitter: ABC7 News

The residences are located near San Francisco in Pacifica, California, which declared a local state of emergency last week after being hit by El Nino storms.

Property owners in the affected areas were notified that the structures are no longer safe to inhabit, according to a press release issued by the city.

Maintenance work underway in the East Bay on Friday, January 22, 2016.

Crews work to remove a fallen tree on 24th St. and Harrison in San Francisco's Mission District on Friday, January 22, 2016.

Crews in Half Moon Bay, Calif., work to keep a section of Mirada Road from falling into the ocean on Friday, January 22, 2016.

King Tides flooded Shoreline Highway in Mill Valley, Calif. on Friday, January 22, 2016.

A Bay Area storm brought down a tree in Foster City, Calif. on Friday, January 22, 2016.

Rough surf took out the railing along Beach Street in Pacifica, Calif. on Friday, January 22, 2016.

Rainbow over Holly Street in San Carlos, Calif., on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

A tree crashed down on an SUV in Danville, Calif., on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Crews work to clear trees knocked down by a powerful storm in Belmont, Calif., on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

A car skid off the road on I-380 in Millbrea, Calif., on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Crews try to remove fallen trees in Belmont, Calif., after a heavy storm on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

A storm is believed to be responsible for bringing down this huge tree that fell on three cars in San Francisco on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

A storm is believed to be responsible for bringing down this huge tree that fell on three cars in San Francisco on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

A storm is believed to be responsible for bringing down this huge tree that fell on three cars in San Francisco on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

A storm turned this street into a river in Sebastopol, Calif. on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

A tree fell across a freeway in Santa Cruz, Calif. on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

This photo shows a double rainbow Tuesday, January 5, 2016.

"It's a series of issues, none of which is truly catastrophic, but when you take them together, they are clearly outpacing what the city can do to respond, which is why I declared a state of emergency.

We still have a month or so of weather, and we can't predict what can happen looking ahead," said Pacifica city manager Lorie Tinfow.

 WATCH: Cliff collapse forces evacuation.

The emergency declaration is a step toward getting state and federal assistance to help rebuild what's been damaged.

ABC7 News began covering the problems on Esplanade Avenue several years ago when a number of homes were declared uninhabitable after heavy erosion left it teetering on the edge of the cliff.

The city council will give a full damage assessment at their next meeting on Monday. - ABC13.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The North America - Sinkhole Holds Up Truck By Bumpers In Thunder Bay, Ontario!

A sinkhole developed overnight at the corner of Brock and Sprague Streets, which eroded the ground, eventually having this truck rest on its bumpers.© Jeff Walters/CBC

January 26, 2016 - ONTARIO, CANADA - A truck is being held up by its bumpers after a sinkhole appeared overnight at the corner of Brock and Sprague Streets.

As of 10 a.m., city crews had already plowed back snowbanks, and were preparing to dig down to find the exact cause of the sinkhole.

Pieces of sidewalk and roadway were crumbling around the deep hole, as the underside of pavement and concrete could be seen hanging in mid air.

The intersection is supposed to open late Friday evening, but will have to be closed again on Saturday.

WATCH: Brock and Sprague sinkhole.

- CBC.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Heavy Snowfall And Freezing Weather Strikes China!

January 26, 2016 - CHINA - Heavy snowfall and freezing cold temperatures in China, Hong Kong and Japan have been breaking temperature records, as well as causing transport gridlock.

WATCH: Camilla Schick reports.

- BBC.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - 7-Year-Old Boy Killed By Dog In Robeson County, North Carolina?!

January 26, 2016 - NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES - One child was killed and his brother was injured after a Sunday dog attack in Robeson County.

Family members told WRAL News that 7-year-old Talen West and 8-year-old Jaylen West were playing in the woods near a home at 2484 Odum Road in Lumberton late Sunday morning when they encountered a neighbor's pit bull.

The dog attacked both children. Emergency crews were called at about 11:20 a.m. and they found Talen West unresponsive upon arrival. The brothers were taken to Southeastern Medical Center, where Talen West died.

Authorities said he had severe puncture wounds on his body.

Jaylen West was treated for leg injuries and released.

Distraught family members said that the dog had no known history of violent tendencies when he turned on them.

"Everybody is just sad and under a lot of stress right now," said the boy's cousin Devin West.

Devin West said that the older brother tried to fight the dog off of his younger sibling, but was unsuccessful.

"His little brother had a machete or hatchet or something and got the dog off of him, but it was too late," he said "He got him by his neck and broke his neck."

Robeson County sheriff's deputies are investigating to determine what may have provoked the dog and whether charges will be filed.

"It's a tough investigation, especially when you lose a child," said Sheriff Kenneth Sealey.

Family members said the dog died at the scene, possibly from exhaustion or a heart attack. - WRAL.