Friday, February 5, 2016

MONUMENTAL DISASTER IMPACT: Powerful 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Devastates Taiwan - DOZENS Feared Dead After MULTIPLE BUILDINGS COLLAPSED Trapping Hundreds Of People; Infant Among First Casualties; Several Aftershocks! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Rescue personnel work at a damaged building after an earthquake struck at 4am on Saturday south of Tainan, southern Taiwan

February 5, 2016 - TAIWAN - Dozens are feared dead after two residential high rises collapsed following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan.

Officials in the southern city of Tainan have already pulled three bodies from the rubble, including an infant girl, but there are potentially hundreds still trapped underneath the concrete.

Between them, the 17 and 16-storey blocks may have been home to as many as 600 people, more than half of whom are missing.

The initial quake, which struck just before 4am, was very shallow, at depth of 6.2 miles (10 km), which would have amplified its effects, the United States Geographical Survey said.

It was followed least five aftershocks of 3.8-magnitude or more, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau.

Rescue efforts appeared to be concentrating on the residential blocks in the Wei Guan area of the city, where some 221 people have been rescued so far, 115 needing hospitalisation, and two in critical condition.

Taiwan's Formosa TV showed images of police, firefighters and some troops in camouflage uniforms at the site of the 17-storey building, where the cries of some residents trapped inside could be heard.

The firefighters were hosing down part of the building to prevent a fire, while others used ladders and a crane to enter the upper floors.

The building appeared to have collapsed onto the first story where a child's clothes were visible fluttering on a laundry line.

124 people have so far been rescued from the rubble of the collapsed buildings, but there are thought to be almost 100 still missing

The earthquake was followed least five aftershocks of 3.8-magnitude or more, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau

Multiple buildings, including a 17-story residential tower, have collapsed after a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck
southern Taiwan early on Saturday. Authorities in the affected city have formed an emergency response center.

Rescuers climb up the mangled ruins of the apartment block to reach people trapped on the higher floors

Some 221 people were rescued within four hours of the earthquake, 115 needing hospitalisation, and two in critical condition

A second residential block may have had as many as 400 people inside it when it collapsed on Saturday morning

Rescuers are seen entering an office building that collapsed early on Saturday morning

A major rescue effort was underway following the 6.9 magnitude quake, which struck at 4am Taiwan time

Rescue personnel work at a damaged building - possibly an office block - in the hours after quake

The city has set up an emergency response centre to deal with the disaster

'Multiple' buildings - including at least one residential block - are said to have fallen following the quake

So far about 30 people have been saved from the rubble and no fatalities have been reported

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected

Among the survivors, Taiwan's official news agency said, were a 10-day-old infant and a 40-year-old man, both found in critical condition. A total of 127 people have been pulled out alive, at least 29 of them injured.

'There are 60 households in that building,' said Tainan City Government Fire Bureau information officer Lee Po Min, estimating that there might be about 240 people living there.

Just 34 people have been pulled out of the second residential building so far, among them a mother and a daughter. It is reported the girl drank her urine while waiting for rescue, which came sooner than expected.

It said the building could have 300 to 400 people at the time of the quake.

Liu Shih-chung, an official with the Tainan City Government, said the city had set up an emergency response centre as it tried to cope with the disaster.

One Tainan resident told MailOnline: 'The water supply has been cut off and the hospitals are full. It's pretty horrendous. Some people are trapped in collapsed buildings. Three have died so far.

WATCH: Scenes from Taiwan following the earthquake.

'This has also taken place just before Chinese New Year, which starts on Sunday.'

'I hugged the wall and put my face to the wall,' Pao-feng Wu, a Tainan resident, said after the quake hit.

The centre was located some 22 miles (36 kilometres) south-east of Yujing, and was felt as a lengthy, rolling shake in the capital, Taipei, on the other side of the island.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

A strong 6.3-magnitude quake which hit central Taiwan in June 2013 killed four people and caused widespread landslides.

A 7.6-magnitude quake struck the island in September 1999 and killed around 2,400 people. - Daily Mail.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Citi Strategists Warn "WORLD ECONOMY SEEMS TRAPPED IN DEATH SPIRAL"; Nasdaq Shed 3% Amid Massive Tech Sell-Off; EU Stocks End Lower After Weak U.S. Jobs Number; Asia Ends Mixed, Nikkei Ends Off 5.9%; And Oil Falls In Volatile Trade!

February 5, 2016 - GLOBAL ECONOMY -  The global economy seems trapped in a "death spiral" that could lead to further weakness in oil prices, recession and a serious equity bear market, Citi strategists have warned.

Some analysts — including those at Citi — have turned bearish on the world economy this year, following an equity rout in January and weaker economic data out of China and the U.S.

"The world appears to be trapped in a circular reference death spiral," Citi strategists led by Jonathan Stubbs said in a report on Thursday.

"Stronger U.S. dollar, weaker oil/commodity prices, weaker world trade/petrodollar liquidity, weaker EM (and global growth)... and repeat. Ad infinitum, this would lead to Oilmageddon, a 'significant and synchronized' global recession and a proper modern-day equity bear market."

Stubbs said that macro strategists at Citi forecast that the dollar would weaken in 2016 and that oil prices were likely bottoming, potentially providing some light at the end of the tunnel.

"The death spiral is in nobody's interest. Rational behavior, most likely, will prevail," he said in the report.

Crude oil prices have tumbled by around 70 percent since the middle of 2014, during which time the U.S. dollar has risen by around 20 percent against a basket of currencies.

The world economy grew by 3.1 percent in 2015 and is projected to accelerate to expand by 3.4 percent in 2016 and 3.6 percent in 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund. The forecast reflects expectations of gradual improvement in countries currently in economic distress, notably Brazil, Russia and some in the Middle East.

By contrast, Citi forecasts the world economy will grow by only 2.7 percent in 2016 having cut its outlook last month.

Overall, advanced economies are mostly making a modest recovery, while many emerging market and developing economies are under strain from the rebalancing of the Chinese economy, lower commodity prices and capital outflows.

Stubbs added that policymakers would likely attempt to "regain credibility" in the coming weeks and months.

"This is fundamental to avoiding a proper/full global recession and dangerous disorder across financial markets. The stakes are high, perhaps higher than they have ever been in the post-World War II era," he said.

Just 151,000 new jobs were created in January in the U.S., in the latest sign that the world's biggest economy is slowing. Economists are concerned about an industrial or manufacturing recession in the country, following some warnings from companies in earnings seasons and recent weak manufacturing activity and durable goods orders data.

However, some analysts say markets are overegging the prospect of a global slump.

"Many markets are now pricing in a significant probability of recession and when we talk about recession, we're talking particularly about a U.S. recession. Do you think that is likely or not? To me, the odds are too high; the market is pricing too high a probability," Myles Bradshaw, the head of global aggregate fixed income at Amundi, told CNBC this week.

Nasdaq sheds 3% amid massive tech sell-off

U.S. equities closed sharply lower on Friday amid a massive drop in technology stocks and as mixed U.S. employment data raised concerns the Federal Reserve may raise rates this year.

"It started with the uncertainty of the Fed and with the weak tech earnings ... it seems to have spread to the broader market," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. "I think people are taking any unnecessary risk off before the weekend."

The three major indexes opened slightly lower, with the Dow Jones industrial average briefly trying for gains, but closed 211 points lower. McDonald's and Home Depot weighed the most on the index.

The S&P 500 index closed 1.85 lower percent, as information technology fell more than 3.35 percent. The Nasdaq composite fell 3.25 percent, as Apple and the iShares

Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) dropped 2.67 percent and 3.19 percent, respectively.

Also weighing on the index were Amazon and Facebook, which closed down 6.36 percent and 5.81 percent, respectively.

Source: FactSet

LinkedIn shares also tanked 43.63 percent after posting weak guidance on their quarterly results. "I think 60 percent [of the market sell-off] is that the Fed was going to raise rates," said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital. "The other 40 percent is LinkedIn. The quarter was good, but the guidance was not."

"Some of the big tech stocks have had weak earnings," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "One stock is not a bellwether for one sector, but when you get multiple stocks with negative earnings reports, then you start seeing [a sector] go lower."

Investors also digested data showing the U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists were expecting a gain of 190,000. The unemployment rate, however, fell to 4.9 percent from 5.0 percent, while wages rose 0.5 percent.

"There was something for the bulls and something for the bears. It depends on which part of the statistics you want to focus on," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank.

"This is a classic example of why the headline looks worse than the actual report," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "The key components of this report were positive."

He noted that average hourly earnings, average hours worked and labor force participation all rose last month.

"It's all about that wage number, and that the 151,000 number is still indicative of growth," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. "[Wages] could be a sticking point for the Fed."

The jobs report raised the odds of another Federal Reserve rate hike, said Arne Espe, senior portfolio manager at USAA Investments.

"We're back to pricing in a 50 percent chance for a rate hike in December," he said. " We were at less than 50 percent before the report."

The central bank hiked interest rates for the first time in nine years in December. Recent U.S. economic data has been mixed and, coupled with falling oil prices, have contributed to rising fears of a recession.

European stocks end lower after weak US jobs number

European markets finished lower on Friday after the latest U.S. jobs data showed a slowdown in employment in January.

The pan-European STOXX 600 ended around 0.9 percent lower, with all major bourses in negative territory as investors digested weaker-than-expected U.S. employment data.

Germany's DAX closed down around 1.1 percent, while the French CAC and London's FTSE finished down 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 151,000 in January, the U.S. Labor Department said, falling short of analysts' expectations. The figures are likely to influence the hiking path the Federal Reserve takes on interest rates.

"Signs of a slowdown in hiring, still-weak annual pay growth and disappointing survey data, all pitched alongside an adverse financial market environment so far this year, reduce the odds of the Fed hiking rates again in March," chief economist at Markit, Chris Williamson, said.
U.S. equities fell on Friday after the jobs data was out.
Anglo American ended sharply higher, closing up over 10 percent as metal prices saw a slight rebound. Fellow miner Lonmin also saw strong gains.

On the earnings front, ArcelorMittal announced it would launch a $3 billion capital increase after its fourth-quarter net loss widened from a year ago amid falling steel prices, sending shares down more than 5 percent.

Nikkei extends losses for fifth day, down 5.9% for the week

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

Asian markets came under pressure on Friday, closing mixed despite a positive finish on Wall Street overnight, as a newly weaker dollar brought fresh concerns.

"The U.S. dollar basket has lost 3.2 percent since the close on Friday and 2.3 percent in two days, with Wednesday being the worst single day in [the dollar index] DXY in seven years," Evan Lucas, market strategist at spreadbetter IG, said in a morning note.

The dollar index, where the dollar is weighted against a basket of currencies, was at 96.58.

Lucas added, "The 36 percent increase in the U.S. dollar in 12 months is clearly putting a strain on U.S. economic growth; U.S. competitiveness has been squeezed and the Fed is isolated as the only central bank to be 'normalizing' monetary policy."

In Japan, the Nikkei extended losses for the fifth day in a row, with the index closing down 225.40 points, or 1.32 percent, at 16,819.59 on the back of a stronger yen. The index has shed 5.85 percent since Monday. The dollar-yen pair fell to the 116-handle, at 116.82 in afternoon trade; earlier this week, the pair was trading above 120.

Lucas said, "[The Bank of Japan's] negative rates have done nothing to slow the appreciation of the Japanese yen since last week. [BOJ Governor Haruhiko] Kuroda and Co.'s attempts to drive export competitiveness and more investment diversification from Japan in the current environment is a tough ask."

Mark Matthews from Bank Julius Baer was more succinct: "Japanese stocks like it when the dollar rises, and don't like it when the dollar falls," he said in a morning note.

Japanese exporters closed mostly down, with Toyota, Nissan and Honda seeing losses between 1.88 and 3.29 percent. Toyota reported an operating profit of 722 billion yen ($6.18 billion) in the October-December period, down 5.3 percent on-year, after market close. The Japanese carmaker also reported a net profit of 1.89 trillion yen, up 9.2 percent, on year, for the first nine months of the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2015.

Down Under, Australia's ASX 200 closed down 4.15 points, or 0.08 percent, at 4,976.20, with the financial sector losing 0.70 percent. Energy and materials sectors finished in positive territory, buoyed by gains in commodities.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi retraced early losses to close flat at 1,917.79.

In China, indexes gave up their marginal gains on the final trading day ahead of the Lunar New Year, when markets will remain closed for a week starting February 8. The Shanghai composite closed down 17.07 points, or 0.61 percent, at 2,763.94, while the Shenzhen composite fell 20.36 points, or 1.15 percent, to 1,750.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 0.62 percent.

- CNBC News.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Scientists Say West Coast Bird Die-Off Is The "BIGGEST EVER RECORDED" - Stomachs Completely Empty; "STAGGERING,... ALARMING,... UNHEARD OF,... NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT,... UNPRECEDENTED IN SIZE, SCOPE, DURATION,..."; Deaths Could Reach Many HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS; A Host Of Other Freakish Phenomena?!

The mass of dead seabirds that have washed up on Alaska beaches in past months is unprecedented in size, scope and duration. David Irons / USFWS

February 5, 2016 - NORTH AMERICA - Scientists think Gulf of Alaska seabird die-off is biggest ever recorded The mass of dead seabirds that have washed up on Alaska beaches in past months is unprecedented in size, scope and duration, a federal biologist said… The staggering die-off is a signal that something is awry in the Gulf of Alaska, said Heather Renner, supervisory wildlife biologist at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge… It coincides with widespread deaths of other marine animals, from whales in the Gulf of Alaska to sea lions in California Common murres and whales… are not the only Gulf of Alaska marine animals to fall victim to ailments… Kachemak Bay saw an eight-fold increase in sea otter deaths… Sea stars in Kachemak Bay in 2015 were found stricken with a wasting disease similar. - Alaska Dispatch News.

“We are in the midst of perhaps the largest murre die-off ever recorded”… [In Homer] the beaches are “littered” with murre carcasses… A breeding colony in the Barren Islands that is usually teeming in late summer with adult murres tending their young was deserted this year “nobody was home… In more than three decades of monitoring murres in the Barrens, we’ve never had complete reproduction failure before“… Similar failures occurred at some other nesting colonies. - Heather Renner, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

During March through September 2015, at least 25 seabird mortality events were reported across Alaska… The primary avian species reported included common and thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes, horned and tufted puffins, glaucous-winged gulls, and sooty and short-tailed shearwaters Some of these avian mortalities were concurrent with whale, pinniped, sea otter, and fish mortalities - USGS.

[T]his event will likely be the largest and most widespread on record. And seeing the starving birds dying far inland apparently searching for food is “nearly unheard of,” said USFWS’s Heather Renner. - Alaska Public Radio.

“We’re seeing the effects of this throughout the food web,” [Rob Kaler U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist] says… The murres’ stomachs are completely empty, Kaler says… Not only is the bird die-off unsettling, the implications are scary, [bird expert Pam Randles] says. “Our salmon eat that stuff and who knows what else is dying off, or starving, or having trouble?” Norm Hughes has been commercial salmon fishing in Alaska for more than 30 years. He says last season saw skinnier fish – up to 20 percent smaller… “there’s less fish”… - KHNS.

“We have never found close to 8,000 birds on a 1-mile long beach before,” [seabird biologist David Irons] said… “It is an order of magnitude larger than any records that I am aware of Seabird biologists say seabirds are indicators of the health of the ecosystem. Now they’re dying and that is telling us something… this is bigger than I’ve ever seen.” - CNN.

Scientists say murre die-off comparable to Exxon Valdez spill… Heather Renner with USFWS says it is already one of the largest die-offs in history and, unlike when the tanker went aground, not many people have gone out to remote beaches to survey for dead seabirds… “there’s dead murres on the ground everywhere, and it’s hard not to notice them.” - APRN.

[Probably hundreds] of thousands of these birds have drifted in dead… last summer they failed to raise chicks. And they have been dying in large numbers along the Pacific coast, from California to Alaska… “Whole systems are out of whack,” says Heather Renner… Old-timers in Homer have never experienced anything like this. And they are perplexed by a host of other freakish phenomena- The Economist.

“[T]here’s dead murres on the ground everywhere, and it’s hard not to notice them.”… The reason for the dead birds is still a mystery… “I think it suggests something more related to the food web structure,” said Renner. - KTOO.

Irons found an estimated 7,800 dead murres on a one-mile stretch of beach… he had never seen anything like that. Similar reports came in from other areas… “The really frustrating question of why they are starving to death”… said Heather Renner… [M]urres abandoned their breeding attempts mid-season at many colonies in the Gulf of Alaska, something very uncommon. - Homer Tribune.

Massive Bird Die-Off Puzzles Alaska Scientists — Dead common murres have washed ashore in Alaska in alarming numbers … leaving scientists concerned and confused… [The birds] have nothing in their stomachs [S]imilar events affected seabird populations in Washington, Oregon and California. - LiveScience.

Bruce Wright, a senior scientist Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association… estimates up to 200,000 Alaskan murres could die. With a population he puts at more than two million, Wright said the species should recover, as long as the food base comes back. - CBC News.

Animals Die in Large Numbers, and Researchers Scratch Their Heads… The latest victims are common murres… this die-off has surprised experts, because it has been going on for around a year and it covers such a vast area… “I still don’t think we’ve seen the worst,” said [John F. Piatt, USGS seabird expert], who… speculated that if the worst happened, the deaths could reach into the many hundreds of thousands. - New York Times.

Watch CNN’s broadcast here

- ENE News.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Rescue Crews Searching For Body Inside Massive Queen Creek Sinkhole In Arizona?! [LIVE VIDEO FEED]

Picture: AIR15

February 5, 2016 - ARIZONA, UNITED STATES - Rescue crews are on scene of a possible body recovery at a Queen Creek sinkhole.

A Queen Creek Fire Department spokesman said a body has not been found, but crews are continuing to search at the scene near Power and Ocotillo roads.

Fire officials say an unoccupied truck was found near the hole, prompting an initial rescue call to determine if a person was stuck in the trench.

Air15 video over the scene showed crews hovering over the hole in a ladder truck bucket assessing the situation.

Several law enforcement agencies are on scene. - ABC15.

WATCH: Rescue crews probe sink hole, seek possible injured person.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Stunning Cross Formation Appears In Clouds Over New Mexico!

February 5, 2016 - NEW MEXICO, UNITED STATES - The Internet is buzzing about a recent photo taken in New Mexico.

The photo showcases clouds hanging over a field, but if you look closely, the break in the sky makes a unique formation.

What do you see?

Here's the photo originally:

- 12 News.

WORLD WAR Z: Plagues & Pestilences - Brazil Finds Zika In Saliva, Urine; Unclear If Can Transmit But Expert Warns Against KISSING?!

February 5, 2016 - BRAZIL - Scientists identified the Zika virus in the saliva and urine of two infected patients, a top Brazilian biomedical research institution said on Friday, prompting its president to urge pregnant women not to kiss strangers just as local carnival celebrations begin.

The discovery added to the rising concern over Zika, which is spreading rapidly in the Americans and has been linked to thousands of severe birth defects in Brazil.

They said they used genetic testing to identify the virus in saliva and urine samples from two patients who had symptoms caused by Zika infection, and determined that the virus was active, meaning it had the potential to cause infection, scientists at the public Oswaldo Cruz Foundation said.

WATCH: Brazilian lab finds Zika virus in saliva, urine.

They said more research was needed to determine whether Zika could be transmitted by either fluid.

This marked the first time the mosquito-borne infection that has prompted a global health scare has been detected in saliva and urine, the scientists told reporters in Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 summer Olympic Games in August.

The vast majority of Zika infections have been caused by mosquito bites, but word surfaced this week of infections caused by sexual transmission and blood transfusions.

These developments come just as Rio kicks off its annual carnival celebrations, a raucous five-day bacchanalia known for street parties and lots of alcohol and kissing. Some revelers even keep track of the number of complete strangers they kiss.

Because Zika has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a condition in which infants are born with abnormally small heads and can suffer developmental problems, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation scientists recommended that pregnant women take special precautions and avoid crowds during carnival.

"In light of the possibility of being in contact with someone who is infected, do not kiss, obviously," Dr. Paulo Gadelha, the foundation's president, told reporters.

"We cannot say today that there is no possibility of transmission," Gadelha added.

Fiocruz, as the foundation is informally known, said it made the discovery after carrying out a partial genome sequencing of the virus found in the samples from the two patients.

"Imagine the social and economic impact of having a mega sporting event with millions of attendees with a brutal infection in the country ... especially at a time we are going through an economic crisis," said Dr. Leonardo Vedolin, a neuroradiologist in Porto Alegre.

There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika. Most infections cause either no symptoms or symptoms including a mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis that normally last for two to seven days, according to the World Health Organization.

Its association with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition in which the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system, has increased alarm over Zika. Researchers are working to confirm that the virus causes those conditions.

Brazil's government may decide to revise a law next week that restricts the country's ability to send medical samples abroad, and does not clearly define protocol when a public health emergency, like Zika, is involved.

Two government sources said the decision would be made at a meeting next Wednesday between the health, science and technology ministries as well as President Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff.

Brazil's health ministry said it had been collaborating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to nail down whether Zika causes Guillain-Barré. Of medical samples collected in Salvador, in northeast Brazil, one third will remain in Brazil and the rest will go to the United States for research, the ministry said. - Yahoo.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake Shakes Southern Taiwan - Described As "ENORMOUS,... BIG ONE,..."; Building Collapse Reported; Government Forms EMERGENCY RESPONSE CENTER; Aftershocks Registered! [MAPS + PHOTOS + VIDEO + SOCIAL MEDIA + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

February 5, 2016 - TAIWAN - A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck southern Taiwan early on Saturday, the US Geological Survey said. A building has partially collapsed, according to an official.

The quake was initially reported as a magnitude 6.7.

The epicenter of the quake was located at a shallow depth of 6.2 miles (10 km), some 19 miles (31 km) east-southeast of Tainan, the USGS said.

USGS shakemap intensity.

There have so far been no reports about casualties or the destruction caused by the disaster.

But the quake has been described as "enormous" and "a big one" on social media.

Local authorities in Tainan have said that they have formed an emergency response center following the quake.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau also measured a second quake of 4.3 magnitude in Tainan, Reuters reported.

"@taispy: Earthquake we just had in Taiwan is no joke. Hope all are safe in Tainan"
Twitter: Sandra Mendes

An at Tainan, ,3:57(UTC+8).
Twitter: sogetsu

The USGS has warned that a magnitude 6.4 earthquake is capable of causing “severe damage.

WATCH: Major damage from Taiwan earthquake.

- RT.

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


GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Mysterious Landslides, Ground Shifting And DEEP FISSURES Appear In Bissarieh, Lebanon - Residents Live In A State Of Panic And Apprehension! [PHOTOS]

Road collapse after two large cracks mysteriously appeared in the village of Bissarieh in Lebanon. Photo: Daily Star Lebanon

February 5, 2016 - LEBANON - Residents of Bissarieh, Lebanon are currently living in a state of panic and apprehension after landslides, ground shifting and deep fissures are threatening their homes.

Unexplained cracks in the roads leading to the village have emerged.

Residents worry that some of the cracks threaten building foundations, leading to their sudden collapse.

And again, the cause of the damage is unknown.

Nothing similar has ever been witnessed in the region. Photo: Daily Star Lebanon

A state of emergency has been declared for the village and surrounding area. Photo: Daily Star Lebanon

Toward the center of the neighborhood a large crater has already destroyed part of one building.

This large fissure (or sinkhole?) is more than a 100 meters wide and several meters deep.

Two other fissures have destroyed the main road.

On either side of the fissures the earth has shifted, threatening the foundations of around 10 nearby buildings.

Cracks opened up in a loud noise that scared residents. Some hid in their closet at home. Many families have been evacuated.

Officials are now investigating the cause of this mysterious geological phenomenon.

Engineers suspect a sudden upwelling of subterranean springs resulting in a shift in the soil.

Families affected by landslides in the southern village of Bissarieh will immediately be given compensation to seek alternative shelter.

A state of emergency will probably be declared in the area. - Strange Sounds.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: 9-Story-High Landfill Blaze Covers Mumbai With Toxic Fumes - Apocalyptic Images Seen From Space! [PHOTOS]

© Krishnendu Halder / Reuters

February 5, 2016 - MUMBAI, INDIA - Social media has been flooded with apocalyptic pictures of the Indian city of Mumbai after a massive toxic fire broke out at a nine-story-high local dumping ground. For the second week, fumes have covered buildings and forced motorists to drive in thick smog.

The fire started at Deonar dumping ground in Mumbai on January 27. Since then, local residents have been complaining of eye irritation, breathlessness and coughing.

"My elder child, who is in class 3, has been feeling nauseous every morning for the past four days, owing to the heavy smog. He has a bad cough and has missed school," Mumbai resident Gunjal Chattree told the Hindustan Times.

Vikram Vishwanath, who lives close to Deonar, has stopped sending his son to school.

"My six-year-old has been having a lot of trouble breathing since the fire broke out at the dumping ground. We took him to an ENT specialist and he is on medication," he said.

-- looks like a post nuclear holocaust scene...
Twitter: Harini Calamur

Dr Satish Kaushik, a practicing consultant family physician, said in the last few days he has seen "close to a 50% increase in the number cases related to respiratory problems."

"People are complaining of cough, cold headaches and chest burn," he said.

On the sixth day after the fire started, local residents staged a protest as the air quality worsened in the affected neighborhoods.

Mumbai locals hold silent protest march starting from Chembur over Deonar dumping ground issue
Twitter: The Quint

Twitter: The Quint

More than 500 citizens wearing pollution masks and black clothes demanded answers from the government. They asked why the blaze had started and why the authorities were not able to handle the situation.


The inferno is so big that it was clearly recorded by NASA - which has released pictures of the blaze. The Deonar dumping ground "receives more than 3,700 metric tons (8.1 million pounds) of trash per day, about one-third of the city's waste. With piles of trash that rise up to 30 meters (100 feet) tall—the equivalent of a nine-story building—the landfill has literally become a mountain of trash," according to NASA. - RT.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Body Of Sperm Whale That Died On Norfolk Beach To Be Tested, The 29th To Die In Europe Within 4 Weeks; Young Beached Gray Whale Rescued In Mexico; Dozens Of Dead And Dying Starlings Found On Road In Wichita, Kansas; And Fish Rain Down On Dire Dawa, Ethiopia! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

The whale flapped its tail in the water but could not right itself

February 5, 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.

Body of sperm whale that died on Norfolk beach to be tested; 29th to die in Europe within 4 weeks

Tests are to be carried out on a sperm whale that died after washing up on a Norfolk beach in an attempt to explain a spate of recent deaths.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue said the bull died shortly after 8pm on Thursday. It had been stranded at Hunstanton since that morning.

Stephen Marsh, operations manager at the rescue organisation, said: "We're very sad to confirm that the whale has died but it is a bit of a relief because it had been in quite a lot of suffering." He added that work would now be carried out to establish the circumstances surrounding the beaching.

The whale is the 29th to have died after becoming stranded on beaches in northern Europe and the east coast of England.

Last month, three dead whales washed up on the Lincolnshire coast and another was found at Hunstanton.

The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which examines all whale, dolphin and porpoise strandings in the UK, is expected to take samples from the Hunstanton whale on Friday. This could help establish what the whales, thought to have come from the same bachelor pod normally living off the west coast of Norway, were doing in the North Sea.

A sperm whale is stranded in shallow water after the tide came in at Hunstanton Beach in Norfolk, eastern England, on February 4, 2016

Rescue workers battled to save the whale

Investigations have started on the second whale which has washed up on Old Hunstanton Beach, the second in the area within a week.

One theory is that the male whales could have taken a wrong turn while heading south to find females or been lured by food, Marsh said.

Teams spent much of Thursday making the Hunstanton whale comfortable but said it was not a rescue attempt as it had little chance of survival. High tide arrived at 2.50pm, engulfing the whale, but it was unable to move.

Even if it had returned to the sea, it was likely to become stranded again and would almost certainly die because of internal injuries suffered since coming ashore, the BDMLR added.

Marsh said strandings could happen naturally and the recent increase might be due to a rise in whale populations. "It will get more attention because it's a big animal but strandings do happen naturally, and we are just not used to seeing them as we decimated the population through whaling," he added.

"The females and calves stay in warmer waters and the males leave as they become sexually active and form bachelor pods. They will then go back to the warmer areas on an annual basis to mate. We don't know if they were trying to migrate down to the tropics, but there's no sign yet of any man-made activity that would cause them to come in, but that is being investigated." - The Guardian.

Young beached gray whale rescued in Mexico

Beached gray whale. © Profepa

Federal environmental officials have rescued a young gray whale stranded on a beach in Baja California Sur.

The environmental protection agency Profepa said the whale was found during a routine inspection at El Mariscal on the Laguna Ojo de Liebre in Guerrero Negro near the city of Mulegé.

A roll-and-tow technique was used to rescue the whale, which was found to be in good condition, and release it back into the sea. Officials said it might have been separated from its mother, become disoriented or caught by a low tide.

The Ojo de Liebre is one of two lagoons in the El Vizcaino Whale Sanctuary and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. - Mexico News Daily.

Dozens of dead and dying starlings found on road in Wichita, Kansas


About 40 Starlings were found dead on a street and in a neighborhood in West Wichita on Wednesday.

"It's kind of weird," said Seth Dugan, who works nearby.

The birds were found dead on Carr Avenue, south of Kellogg and Maize Road.

"Completely clear and then come back out 20 minutes later and there was a ton of birds laying out here and people were stopping and taking pictures on their cell phones," said Dugan.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Wichita Fire Department responded to the scene and gathered the dead birds. The Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism also responded and investigated the cause of death.

Wildlife Biologist Charlie Cope has ruled out poison and guns as the cause of death.

WATCH: Dead birds everywhere.

"Occasionally, a couple may come in contact with electrical line," said Cope. "Those birds being in contact and getting electrocuted, that would be my best guess based on years of doing this."

Cope added that Starlings are not protected by federal or state law as they are an "invasive species" and not native to North America.

If you need assistance with picking up stray, sick, injured, or dead animals, call your local animal control agency. The Wichita Animal Control can be reached at 350-3360. - KAKE.

Fish rain down on Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

Fish on the road in Dire Dawa.

Residents of Dire Dawa observed the rains of fish in the town. According to sources, it was dust particles that was dropping in balls.

Later the fish drop everywhere.

The residents are familiar with such a rain since it rain in the past.

While asked his comments on the unusual incident Haromaya University Academician in the field of Meteorology and Climate Mr Efrem Mamo said such incidents are common in areas where ocean currents and winds are heavier than the usual.

Mamo who said he had once heard similar thing happening in Hawasa about 10 years ago added, to have a clear view on today's happening it will be necessary knowing recent day's metrological data of Dire Dawa town.

WATCH: Rains of fish in Dire Dawa.

- Habesha2day.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Massive Sinkhole Opens Up On Road In Wildwood, Missouri! [VIDEO]

Sinkhole in Wildwood.

February 5, 2016 - MISSOURI, UNITED STATES - Beware of a massive sinkhole in Wildwood; the hole is about 20' around and looks to be up to 40' deep in spots.

Both Rose Newell and her granddaughter Sophia had ridden over the stretch of Melrose Road near Highway 100 not long before the hole opened late Tuesday afternoon. Sophia on the bus coming home from school.

"We drove it over this and we were perfectly fine," she said.

A short time later the hole opened after an SUV drove over it.

"Safety is the biggest concern. It's a rural road. It just happened to be at the right spot and the right time to open up underneath the roadway," said Wildwood Mayor, Tim Woerther. At first, the hole at the surface was just about 3 feet in circumference with the true danger hidden deep below the pavement. Caves are common in this part of St. Louis County, known for Karst topography, featuring limestone underground that may have given way quite a distance from the sinkhole.

"Water gets into (the limestone) and eats it away, basically rots it out. So ultimately it creates those voids underneath the ground. In this case it happened to be underneath the roadway, finally it worked itself up," Woerther said.

"It's just ridiculous. I'm worried about getting out of here because I use the road to go 109,"

Rose Newell said. "I don't know how long it's going to be like that."

"It's much bigger than just a small hole in the road, a pot hole, by any stretch of the imagination.

It's a pretty big void at this point," Woerther said.

WATCH: Massive sinkhole opens up on Wildwood road.

The plan is to have the road re-opened sometime over the weekend: filling the hole with rock then re-paving. Workers had yet to dig out the hole back to the source of the problem and seal it off.

Where that source might be was still a big unknown, Wednesday. - FOX2NOW.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Severe Drought Hits Zimbabwe - President Mugabe Declares A STATE OF DISASTER In Rural Areas; Some 2.44 MILLION PEOPLE Are In Need Of Food Aid!

 Zimbabwean farmers attempt to get a malnourished cow on its feet in rural Masvingo in January. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

February 5, 2016 - ZIMBABWE - Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has declared a state of disaster in rural areas hit by a severe drought, as more than a quarter of the population face food shortages.

A regional drought worsened by the El Niño weather phenomenon has affected South Africa, Malawi and Zambia as well as Zimbabwe, leaving tens of thousands of cattle dead, reservoirs depleted and crops destroyed.

Formerly known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered perennial shortages in recent years and has relied on importing grain from neighbouring countries to meet its needs.

“Initial indications were that 1.5 million people were food-insecure with all the 60 rural districts being affected,” the public works minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, said in a statement.

“Overall, the food insecure population has since risen to 2.44 million – 26% of the population.

“[With] the continued threat of the El Niňo-induced drought, his excellency the president has declared a state of disaster in regard to severely affected areas.”

Mugabe has blamed low farm yields on erratic rains due to climate change, as well as sanctions imposed by western countries over the government’s human rights record.

Slim pickings as drought overtakes Zimbabwe.

Critics say the food shortages have been caused partially by land reforms enacted by the president since 2000, when the government oversaw the often violent eviction of white farmers.

Many farms are underutilised, and the government has vowed to hold an audit to ensure agriculture land is put into production.

“The rains came too late to save the crops. Most of the maize wilted,” Enos Janhi, a farmer in Masvingo, one of the worst affected districts, told AFP. “Farmers are driving their cattle into the fields to graze on the drying stalks. The government must act urgently to bring us food.”

Kasukuwere said at least 16,500 cattle have died in Zimbabwe, while as much as 75% of crops have been abandoned in the worst-hit areas.

The minister said the government would take measures to minimise the impact of the drought on both humans and livestock. But he gave few details, and the country has scarce resources to tackle the food shortages due to years of international isolation and its stagnant economy.

“The April [2015] harvest in Zimbabwe was 50% lower than the previous year,” said David Orr, spokesman for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). “With the drought continuing, it looks like the lean season is going to continue beyond the harvest time this year. The number of food-insecure people is likely to rise and continue rising.”

Provinces worst affected (source: Zimbabwe government, Feb 2016)

Last month, the WFP said 14 million people across southern Africa faced going hungry due to the prolonged drought, with the cost of maize – the regional staple – in Malawi 73% higher than average.

“People have no money in their pockets – a situation exacerbated by food shortages,” Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told a news conference in Harare. “We are facing a very serious national crisis.”

South Africa has recorded its worst drought since records began more than a century ago, and will have to import half its average maize crop.

Last year was the hottest worldwide in modern times, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. - The Guardian.