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Death toll at 30 in northern Indian cold snap


LUCKNOW, India (AFP) – At least five more people froze to death as unseasonably cold weather gripped northern India, taking the death toll there to 30 as meteorologists warned of heavy fog in the coming days.

“The toll has now gone up to 29 in the state as four more people died of cold overnight,” police spokesman Surendra Srivastava said in Lucknow, the provincial capital of Uttar Pradesh.

Another cold-related death was reported in the neighbouring state of Haryana, officials said.

Most of the victims in Uttar Pradesh — India’s most populous state and one of its poorest — were homeless, Srivastava said, as the local administration ordered authorities to move beggars into government-run winter shelters.

“Keeping in view the bad weather and the increasing number of deaths, the process has already started,” announced state relief commissioner A.K. Singh.

The temperature overnight in Lucknow slid to three degrees Celsius (37.4 degrees Fahrenheit), the weather office said, adding the mercury was likely to dip further across Uttar Pradesh.

Temperatures also fell below minus 3.6 degrees Celsius in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people were made homeless by the October 8 earthquake that ravaged the Himalayan region.

At least 2,500 evacuated from southern Thai floods

BANGKOK (AFP) – At least 2,500 people have been evacuated from their homes in southern Thailand, where violent storms have lashed the region and sent floodwaters rising.

“We have gathered boats from across the country, not only from government agencies but also from private owners to help evacuate people,” Kananat Kachna, head of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, told AFP Saturday.

“The roads are completely impassable, only six- and ten-wheel trucks from the government will be able to get through to assist villagers,” he said.

Downpours during the night Friday caused up to 30 centimeters (one foot) of floodwater in Yala province, forcing the evacuation of at least 800 people, Kananat said.

Another 800 people from Pattalung province and 100 from Nakhon Si Thammarat province have been evacuated. About 680 people in Songkhla and more than 120 from Trang have also been evacuated to safer locations, he added.

Officials were considering more evacuations in the provinces of Songkhla, Pattalung and Nakhon Si Thammarat, Kananat said.

Twelve people have died since late November in floods across southern provinces, while two people have gone missing, the department said.

Two Swedish women also drowned after defying official warnings and swimming in the sea at Pha Ngan island, where the storms helped create an unusually strong current, police said.

In the Indian capital New Delhi, the weather office announced a slight respite from the chill but warned the somewhat warmer temperatures would bring fog this week, which every year disrupts road, air and rail traffic.

The winter takes a heavy toll each year around South Asia, as poverty forces many homeless people to live outdoors or in flimsy shacks designed for the equally hot summers.

Heavy Rains Claim 47 Lives in Vietnam


HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – Floods and landslides have claimed at least 47 lives in central Vietnam in the past two weeks, disaster officials said Saturday.

Six other people were reported missing after heavy rains swept through five provinces.

Officials had reported 13 deaths earlier in the week.

Most of the dead were in Khanh Hoa province, where Ngo Vinh Thong, the chief disaster official, said 29 people were killed, including nine construction workers buried by a landslide Thursday.

In Phu Yen province, nine people were killed and one person was missing, said Ngo Ba Loc, a local disaster official.

Binh Dinh province reported four dead and four people missing, and Quang Ngai reported four dead and one missing. One person was also reported killed in Quang Nam province.

3.4-magnitude quake rattles East Bay nerves


By Joyce Tsai
Knight Ridder
A sharp 3.4-magnitude earthquake rattled East Bay residents Friday morning, leaving many closest to its center wondering whether there had been an explosion.
The earthquake, on the Hayward Fault, was centered one mile east of Hercules. It prompted calls from people as far south as Oakland, but no damage or injuries were reported.
The event was called a “reasonably light quake” by U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Bill Lukas.
About 15 to 20 residents called the Hercules Police Department to ask if there had been a quake or a refinery explosion.
“They were pretty frightened,” said Cheryl Rinker, Hercules police department volunteer coordinator. “They wanted reassurance that it wasn’t an explosion.”
All reported that they felt a strong shaking sensation; some said their homes shook violently, Rinker added.
“It was kind of a booming feeling,” Hercules resident Joanne Addy said. “It didn’t last very long.”
The Geological Survey spokesman used the quake to drive home a lesson.
“It’s a good opportunity to prepare for a large quake that will inevitably happen,” Lukas said.

Strong earthquake rocks northern Japan


There appear to be few injuries from a strong earthquake that shook northern Japan early Saturday.
So far there are reports of only two people being hurt in the 6.2 magnitude quake.
An elderly woman was hospitalized after falling and hitting her head. And another woman was treated for bruises suffered when she fell out of bed.
Scientists say the quake was centered deep below the ocean off the coast and was felt in dozens of towns and cities. But officials say there’s no danger of a tsunami.
Japan sits on top of four tectonic plates and is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

Quake hits Qeshm island, southern Iran

An earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale hit surrounding areas of Qeshm Island in southern Iran on Saturday.
Iran’s seismological network affilliated to Tehran University’s Geophysics Institute registered the tremor at 10:58 local time (07:28 GMT).
There are no reports of any damage or casualty caused by the tremor.
Qeshm, a 1,500-square-kilometer island, is home to some rare wildlife such as certain species of birds endemic only to the area.
The Forests of Hara in the island is a unique tourist spot.
The island is also one of Iran’s lucrative commercial and fishing ports.

Earthquake felt in New Delhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A 5.2 magnitude earthquake shook northern India on Wednesday, a day after residents of New Delhi and other areas in the north were shaken by a 6.7 quake centered in the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan.

The Meteorological Department said the epicenter was in the Chamoli district of the mountain state of Uttaranchal. There were no initial reports of damage or casualties, an official said.

Scores of houses were damaged in Afghanistan by Tuesday’s early morning earthquake, the biggest since the devastating October 8 South Asia quake that killed almost 75,000 in the region.

More than 20,000 people died when a powerful quake hit India’s western state of Gujarat in 2001.

Earthquake strikesd Ireland

A minor earthquake measuring 2.6 on the Richter Scale has been detected just off the east coast of Ireland. The tremor was felt by householders from Arklow to Bray at around 3.20am this morning.

Earthquake Hits New Zealand Capital

A special screening of PETER JACKSON’s new blockbuster KING KONG was rocked by an earthquake yesterday (13DEC05) in Wellington, New Zealand. The quake, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, hit the New Zealand capital an hour into the epic film, during a scene featuring a sea storm.
The quake hit at 9.09pm local time, although there were no reports of any serious damage.

Snow, Freezing Cold Grip Middle of U.S.


Storms across the nation’s midsection delivered freezing cold and as much as 10 inches of snow by Thursday, snarling traffic and closing schools from Illinois to Texas.

At least three people were killed in wrecks, including a 4-year-old girl and her mother.

The eastbound system was expected to leave up to a half-foot of snow on central Illinois by Thursday afternoon, hitting Chicago by rush hour before continuing eastward.

Some Texas schools also closed or opened late on Thursday after sleet and freezing rain iced roads there. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport canceled dozens of morning flights.

The heaviest band of snow fell along the Interstate 35 corridor into Kansas City, with up to 10 inches, said Greg Koch, a National Weather Service forecaster. Temperatures in the city fell into the single digits.

Numerous vehicles slipped off roads or got into fender benders, troopers said. On snow-packed I-35 near Edgerton, Kan., a 31-year-old woman’s pickup slid across the median and collided with another vehicle, killing her and her 4-year-old daughter Wednesday, authorities said.

A 66-year-old man was also killed when his van left a highway and struck a tree in Lyon County, Kan., while as many as 20 cars each piled up in wrecks on Interstate 29, north of Platte City, Mo., and on Interstate 44 near St. Louis.

“A lot of people aren’t slowing down,” said Judy Gilchrist, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Turnpike Authority. “They still want to use their cruise control.”

In Dallas, an out-of-control tractor-trailer rig on Interstate 20 slid into a parked SUV, which burst into flames. No one was injured. That region’s freezing precipitation was expected to taper off Thursday, but a hard freeze will preserve some ice, forecasters said.

In Oklahoma, up to 5 inches of snow fell, and the temperature plunged as low as 6 below early Thursday in Guymon on the sweeping plains of the Panhandle.

Workers at a grain elevator in Hooker, Okla., dressed in three layers of clothes to cut the cold.

“If you keep yourself working, it’s not bad,” operations manager Jerry Diederich said. “But if I see them shiver a little bit, we stop and get a drink of coffee.”

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Two dead, more than 60,000 displaced by Philippine flooding


MANILA (AFP) – Two people have died and more than 60,000 people have been forced to evacuate after heavy rains caused massive flooding in three Philippine provinces, disaster relief officials said.

Strong rain since Monday caused a landslide in the town of Pagbilao in Quezon province, about 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of Manila, resulting in the two fatalities, the Office of Civil Defense said.

A protective dyke collapsed near the town of Naujan in Oriental Mindoro island province also south of the capital, causing floods that displaced more than 47,000 people, it said.

Some 15,000 people were also relocated to higher ground in Quezon. There was also flooding and reports of scattered landslides in the eastern province of Camarines Norte.

Search and rescue teams have been deployed to the affected areas and the military’s Southern Luzon Command has dispatched trucks for the relief effort.

Also, at least two helicopters and several inflatable boats were sent to support rescue and relief efforts.

The state weather bureau had earlier forecast more rain to hit the area this week.

Strong earthquake hits Papua New Guinea

Sydney (AUSTRALIA) A powerful magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit the northern coast of Papua New Guinea on Thursday night, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
According to the US Geological Survey Web site, the temblor hit at 0901 GMT about 125 kilometres (80 miles) east southeast of the town of Madang, a popular scuba diving and resort town. An official at the National Disaster Management Office, who refused to be named, saying he was not authorized to be quoted, said he had no information on the quake, which the USGS site said was centred 218 kilometres (135 miles) underground in a region where two tectonic plates meet and which regularly experiences earthquakes and tremors.
Sgt Toby Kamseboda of Madang police said in a telephone interview that residents barely noticed the quake. “We just felt it a bit, not much,” he said. “There’s no damage up here.”
In 1998, a tsunami caused by an undersea earthquake killed at least 2,000 people when it struck the north coast of Papua New Guinea’s main island, wiping out dozens of coastal villages. Papua New Guinea, an impoverished nation of 5 million people, lies immediately north of Australia.
In September, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit near the province of New Ireland, 870 kilometres (540 miles) northeast of the South Pacific island nation’s capital Port Moresby, but there were no reports of any injuries.
Small Earthquake Shakes North Carolina


BURNSVILLE, N.C. — A small earthquake rattled homes in Yancey County yesterday afternoon.
The U.S. Geological Survey says Wednesday’s earthquake had a magnitude of two-point-eight. No damage was reported.
It was the second time in four months that a minor quake was reported in the same general area. The quake was centered near the community of Price Creek, about six miles from Burnsville and nearly 100 miles northwest of Charlotte.

Meteor Produces Light Show in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) – A small meteor produced a spectacular light show in the night sky over western Australia, making a thundering noise as it burned up entering the atmosphere, astronomers and witnesses said.

The meteor, which astronomers said was probably sized somewhere between a basketball and half a small car, lit up the sky for hundreds of miles over the southwestern corner of Australia about 9 p.m. on Saturday.

“We … turned around and there was this spectacular, absolutely amazing thing flying across the sky,” said witness Karun Cowper of Halls Head, about 47 miles south of the Western Australia state capital of Perth.

“It was that big, it was that startling that you were expecting it to hit the ground and for it to be some sort of cataclysmic thing, you know,” he told the Channel 7 television network. “To me it was scary, almost.”

Rick Tonello, of the Perth Observatory, said the meteor was a chunk of rock that was caught in the earth’s gravitational pull, and burned up as it entered the atmosphere.

The thundering noise that witnesses described as accompanying the meteor was a sonic boom as it broke the sounds barrier, astronomers said.

“All of a sudden the sky lit up, it was a bright as daylight it was quite unbelievable,” witness Helen Bignell told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“I looked up overhead and there was something silver, sort of looked like a silver ball with a trailing reddish green sort of tail almost like fireworks,” he said.

Thousands Flee Volcano Threat in Vanuatu


PORT VILA, Vanuatu (AP) – Thousands of villagers living in the shadow of a volcano spewing ash and steam on the Vanuatu island of Ambae have been evacuated amid fears of a major eruption, officials said Tuesday.

Mt. Manaro, which cradles a volcanic lake in its crater, began tossing out ash and a towering plume of steam on Nov. 27. Douglas Charlie, a local volcanologist, said the lakebed was in danger of being torn open by the trembling mountain, causing “a gigantic explosion” as the water hit the hot volcanic magma.

The lake also is being forced up toward the rim, sparking fears of a mud flow that could flow toward the villages that surround the mountain.

Officials ordered 5,000 people living in 15 villages nearest the mountain to move to the island’s coast. Ambae itself has a total of 10,000 residents.

Since the volcano’s activity started, some 2,000 tons of ash has been falling daily around the mountain base, and white steam billows 4,500 feet above its cone.

New Zealand volcanologist Steve Sherburn told The Associated Press Mt. Manaro “currently is trembling or vibrating all the time” and said the current movement “seems to be typical of some of the larger eruptions that we’ve had.”

Vanuatu, an archipelago of more than 80 islands and a nation of 200,000 people, is about 1,400 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia.

Strong quake shakes six nations across east and central Africa


NAIROBI (AFP) – A strong earthquake shook central and east Africa, causing buildings to sway in at least six nations near its epicenter on the border between Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported from the temblor that registered 7.5 on the Richter scale, according to the French Observatory of Earth Sciences in Strasbourg and magnitude 6.8, according to the US Geological Survey.

The two facilities said the epicenter was near the eastern side of Lake Tanganyika, which forms the border between Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and struck at 1219 GMT (1519 local time) in most of the affected countries.

Residents of the capitals of at least six countries — Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda — reported feeling the tremors.

In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and port city of Mombasa, tall buildings swayed as the earth shook for some 15 seconds sending office workers fleeing into the streets for safety, witnesses said Monday.

“I was sitting at my desk when I started feeling dizzy,” said an AFP journalist who was in the news agency’s office in the fifth floor of a 13-story downtown building. “Everything was swaying.”

“The tremor lasted about 15 seconds, then we decided to leave the building,” he added.

Kenya’s private Nation television reported that some cracks had been observed in some downtown buildings after the temblor but this could not immediately be confirmed.

In the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, residents also felt the quake which forced the evacuation of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which is trying suspects in that country’s 1994 genocide, witnesses said.

In Rwanda itself, residents of the capital Kigali said they had felt the earth shaking as did witnesses in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, the Burundian capital of Bujumbura and several towns in the eastern DRC.

Earthquake rocks Taipei buildings


TAIPEI (AFP) – An earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale hit the capital and surrounding area causing buildings to sway.

The quake came amid a warning that the weight of the world’s tallest skyscraper may cause an increase in temblors.

The quake struck at 18:15 pm (1015 GMT) with an epicentre around 7.3 kilometres (4.38 miles) southeast of the capital, the Seismology Center said.

The tremor, which originated 64.3 kilometers below the earth, was strongly felt in Taipei, although there were no immediate reports of damage.

In scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, an earthquake specialist from National Taiwan Normal University warned last month that the 1,679-foot (511-metre) Taipei 101 sits on a fault line and its weight of 700,000 tons may be leading to increased seismic activity.

But the Seismology Center has rejected the warning with its experts saying the theory lacked sufficient data.

The skyscraper was unveiled on December 31 last year, just five days after an earthquake off Indonesia sent killer tsunamis across the Indian Ocean.

The skyscraper is installed with a 660-ton device 5.5 meters (18.15 feet) in diameter designed to reduce swaying in the event of strong winds or earthquakes.

Taiwan, lying near the junction of two tectonic plates, is shaken regularly by earthquakes. The country’s worst, measuring 7.6 on the Richter sale, struck in September 1999 and left some 2,400 people dead.

Storms bring snow and floods to Italy


ROME (Reuters) – Bad weather battered much of Italy on Saturday, bringing heavy snows to the north, torrential rain to the centre and widespread flooding to Venice.
Hundreds of cars and lorries were snowed in on roads across northwestern Italy, while the tram system in Italy’s financial capital Milan was knocked out for most of the day thanks to the winter storm.
In Venice, water covered 70 percent of the historic centre as heavy rains combined with a high tide to inundate the lagoon city. In parts, the water was so high it covered the raised walkways set up to overcome any eventual flooding.
In the northern region of Liguria, a cargo ship sank when strong winds drove it into a breakwater outside the port of La Spezia. All 13 crew were saved but authorities fear 14,000 litres of oil will leak from the ship’s tanks, causing a possible environmental disaster.
The storm also hit Rome, drenching the Italian capital and flooding one of the main roads into the city.

Volcano leaves up to 250,000 without water in Comoros: UN


MORONI (AFP) – Up to 250,000 people on the main island of the Indian Ocean Comoros archipelago have been left without safe drinking water after last week’s eruption of the Mount Karthala volcano, the United Nations said.

“UNICEF has provided 280,000 litres over the past two days and will probably have to continue to do so,” the spokesman for the UN children’s agency, Damien Personnaz, said in a statement.

“Some 250,000 people out of a total population of about 670,000 (on the Comoros archipelago) … are without drinking water, and it is very difficult to move water to certain areas,” he said.

The Mount Karthala National Observatory has recommended that residents of Grand Comore observe caution as the 2,361-meter (7,746-foot) mountain continues to rumble.

Ash from the eruption blanketed the island last week, killing at least one infant, infiltrating homes, shops and offices and contaminating water in cisterns during the height of the dry season.

Authorities on Grand Comore, the largest of the three semi-autonomous islands in the Comoros, have appealed for international assistance to help in distributing potable water to those in need.

The eruption — the second this year — produced no lava flows but sent some 500 villagers fleeing from their homes in the shadow of the mountain. Almost all have now returned.

In April, nearly 10,000 villagers living at the base of the mountain fled their homes after ash sparked widespread fears of drinking water contamination among Grand Comore’s 350,000 residents.

Mount Karthala last had a magma eruption in 1977, when lava destroyed the village of Singani, some 20 kilometres (13 miles) south of Moroni, and toxic gas was released into the air but did not cause any deaths.

Persian Gulf island of Qeshm hit by another quake


Tehran, Dec 1, IRNA-An earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale hit Qeshm Island and surrounding villages in southern Hormuzgan province of Iran at 04:04 hours local time (00:34 GMT) on Thursday.
The seismological base of Tehran University’s Geophysics Institute registered the tremor in an area measuring 26.68 degrees in latitude and 55.71 degrees in longitude.
There are no reports of any damage or casualty caused by the quake.

Earthquake jolts southern Philippines, no damage reported


COTABATO — (2ND UPDATE) A strong earthquake jolted the southern Philippines early Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties, seismologists said.
The magnitude-5.7 quake was centered at sea, about 140 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province, or about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southeast of Manila, Erlinton Olavere of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
The source of the earthquake was the Cotabato Trench, whose strongest movement in 1976 caused a tsunami that killed hundreds of people, Melchor Lasala of the Institute told Inquirer News Service.
The earthquake, which struck at 12:53 a.m. (1653 GMT Wednesday), was also felt in the southern Philippine cities of Cotabato and Pagadian, and the towns of Palimbang and Takurong, he added.
Small aftershocks were recorded by the institute, but were too weak to be felt by residents, Olavere said.

Volcano Outside Mexico Erupts


MEXICO CITY (AP) – The Popocatepetl Volcano sent a gritty cloud billowing into the sky outside Mexico City early Thursday.

Officials warned nearby residents to protect themselves against the rain of ash the eruption will likely cause. The 17,886-foot volcano posed no other danger.

It has been erupting intermittently since 1994.

In July, the volcano sent a column of hot ash 1 1/2 miles into the air and spat red-hot rocks. But it didn’t threaten residents living at the volcano’s base.

Cyclone off India expected to intensify


HYDERABAD, India (AFP) – A high alert remained in effect along the southeastern Indian coast as weather officials said stalled Cyclone Baaz would intensify and move onshore at the weekend.

The cyclone had been forecast to make landfall in the southeastern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh by late Friday with winds of up to 90 kilometres (56 miles) per hour.

But by early Thursday it had halted around 400 kilometres southeast of the city of Chennai, a weather official said.

“The cyclonic storm is stationary. It is not moving at all,” said G. Sudhakar Rao, director of the weather office in Hyderabad.

Rao said the cyclone was expected to intensify later Thursday and head for Chennai by Friday evening.

Thousands of people were evacuated along the southeastern coast Wednesday and authorities sounded a high alert for coastal residents as well as fishermen.

On Thursday, the Indian army and navy were ordered to prepare for rescue and relief operations, an official said.

The cyclone also threatened to curtail the first cricket Test between India and Sri Lanka in Chennai on Friday.

Aftershock shakes Montana area Tuesday

An aftershock from a more powerful July earthquake northwest of Dillon shook parts of southwest Montana on Tuesday, officials said Wednesday.
The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology in Butte said the magnitude 3.8 aftershock occurred at 5:48 p.m. Tuesday(11-28-2005). The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 3.5 magnitude aftershock at that time about 10 miles north of Dillon.

No damage was reported, and the aftershock doesn’t mean larger earthquakes are to come, said Mike Stickney, a seismologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology.

More than 3,000 smaller aftershocks have been reported in the area since the magnitude 5.6 quake on July 25, he said.

‘‘This seems to be a relatively well-behaved aftershock sequence in that the activity is decreasing with time,’’ Stickney said. ‘‘This just is one late lurch in the aftershock sequence.’’

The aftershock was felt as far away as Bozeman, the USGS reported.

Quake shakes Mount Shasta area


Area residents were given a good shake when a 3.1 earthquake struck the region approximately 3 miles south southeast of Dunsmuir at 10:12 p.m.
Dunsmuir city hall said there were no reports of damage or injuries.

According to reports, the quake was felt in Mount Shasta. Mount Shasta residents reported the quake was not rolling, but a sharp shake accompanied by a booming noise.

Another tropical storm forms on eve of hurricane season’s end


MIAMI (AFP) – Epsilon, the 26th Atlantic tropical storm of the year, formed one day short of the official conclusion of a record-breaking hurricane season, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

Epsilon formed in the central Atlantic Ocean, about 1,360 kilometers (845 miles) east of Bermuda and was moving west on a track that would not threaten land, according to NHC forecasts.

The rare late-season tropical storm capped what has been a record year for hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

Residents along the hurricane belt heaved a sigh of relief as the threat fizzled away for now, but scientists warned that coming years could be just as intense.

Several grim records were set during the six-month season, which officially ends on November 30, though this year it looks certain to be extended by Tropical Storm Epsilon.

Katrina, which killed more than 1,200 people in New Orleans and other US Gulf coast areas in August, was the most expensive US hurricane and one of the deadliest. But it was just one of a record 13 Atlantic hurricanes this year.

Hurricane Wilma, which slammed into Florida in October, became the most intense hurricane ever in the Atlantic, with its central pressure falling to 882 millibars.

In all, an unprecedented 25 tropical storms raged in the Atlantic Basin since the season started on June 1. The previous busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record was in 1933, with 21 storms.

The death and destruction the storms wrought along the Caribbean, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and on Florida’s Atlantic coast are still evident in many areas.

In New Orleans, entire neighborhoods remain deserted, including the hardest-hit Ninth Ward which is scheduled to reopen on December 1. Friends, relatives and even insurance inspectors are still finding bodies trapped in attics and collapsed buildings.

Much of the devastation in New Orleans was caused by floodwaters after Katrina’s wrath shattered levees in the famed, low-lying city.

Just as workers finished pumping out the floodwater, Hurricane Rita caused renewed flooding in the “Big Easy” in October.

That same month, Stan devastated Guatemala, even though it had weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm by the time it hit the impoverished central American nation. Flashfloods and mudslides left about 2,000 people feared dead, destroyed crops, killed cattle and cut off an entire province.

Last year’s Atlantic season already had been particularly busy and damaging, and forecasters believe this is part of period of intense hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin.

Several experts say the hyperactivity is likely to continue for several years, as part of what they see as a historic cycle where busy hurricane periods alternate with decades of relative calm.

“In the 1970’s, there was an average of about 10 Category four and five hurricanes per year globally. Since 1990, the number of Category four and five hurricanes has almost doubled, averaging 18 per year globally,” said Peter Webster, an expert at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Hurricanes that rank at category four on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale have sustained winds of between 210 and 249 kilometers (131 to 155 miles) per hour, and category five — the highest — has winds of above 249 kilometers (155 miles) per hour.

There are strong fears that global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gasses is further fueling the deadly weather systems by increasing sea surface temperatures, though the theory remains controversial.

While experts disagree on whether global warming is to blame for more frequent and more intense hurricanes, most agree the risk posed by the deadly storms increases as US coastal areas become more densely populated.

“The large upward surge in hurricane damage in the US, is clearly owing to the confluence of rapidly increasing coastal population with a decadal time-scale upswing in Atlantic hurricane activity,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

Tropical storm brings unprecedented damage to Canaries


MADRID (AFP) – Tens of thousands of people were left without power on Spain’s Canary Islands after Tropical Storm Delta wreaked havoc on the popular winter tourist destination, killing at least seven people and causing serious damage.

Delta struck the archipelago with winds gusting at more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake overnight before spinning off towards the Moroccan coast.
At Las Palmas, a huge rock nicknamed “Finger of God” overlooking the sea and a symbol of Gran Canaria, was blown over, as were numerous palm trees, injuring one German tourist on El Hierro.

Comoros volcano eruption pollutes water

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Water supplies to more than 100,000 people in the Indian Ocean Comoros islands have been contaminated by the eruption of one of the world’s largest active volcanoes, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Mount Karthala sent clouds of ash and sparks flying late on Thursday, leaving the capital Moroni and other villages on the main island of Grande Comore covered in gray.

“Concerns exist regarding the availability of potable water in the areas exposed to smoke and ashes,” said a report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Preliminary results from the assessment indicate that as many as 118,000 persons living in 75 villages may be affected by the contamination of water tanks,” the report said.

OCHA said they were also concerned about the impact of the pollution from volcanic debris on agriculture and livestock.

OCHA said approximately 2,000 people fled their villages in the region of Bambao in the central part of the island, and have sought refuge in less exposed areas.

In April, a volcanic eruption hit the eastern part of the island, affecting around 40,000 residents and forcing thousands to flee in fear of poisonous gas and a possible magma flow.

It was the first eruption in more than decade on the archipelego nation, 300 km (190 miles) off the coast of east Africa.

OCHA said seismographic data collected by the Karthala Volcanologic Observatory has shown seismic activity continuing.

“According to the observatory, a lava lake is in formation in the crater, as of yet confined within the crater,” said OCHA.

The islands have largely escaped major destruction from the volcano, which has erupted every 11 years on average over the last 200 years, but has had several close calls.

Small Earthquake Shakes Western Washington


A small earthquake rattled the Northwestern portion of Washington State this afternoon.

The quake was about a 4.1 magnitude quake that originated about .3 miles below the surface.

It happend about 12:53pm and originated about 18-miles Northeast of Bellingham near Deming.

People there reported the shaking to be moderate and lasted about 10-15 seconds.

No major damage or injuries have been reported.

Tropical Storm Delta forms in Atlantic


MIAMI, Florida (Reuters) — The 25th tropical storm of a record hurricane season formed on Wednesday in the central Atlantic and could strengthen into a hurricane, but it posed no immediate threat to land, U.S. forecasters said.
Tropical Storm Delta was roughly 1,150 miles (1,850 km) southwest of Portugal’s Azores islands by 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) and was moving toward the south-southeast at 9 mph (15 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and could become a hurricane with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph) in the next 24 hours, the center said.
Delta was expected to loop back toward the north after several days and then drift slightly northwestwards over open waters.
The storm was named from the Greek alphabet, like its predecessors Alpha, Beta and Gamma, after the official list of storm names for 2005 was exhausted.
This year ranks as the busiest Atlantic hurricane season since records began 150 years ago with 25 named storms, 13 of which became hurricanes. The previous record was 21 named storms in 1933.
Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma all struck the United States, making 2005 the costliest hurricane season on record. Katrina killed more than 1,000 people in Louisiana and Mississippi, and devastated New Orleans.
Hurricane Stan in October killed up to 2,000 people in Central America.
The season officially ends November 30.

Minor Earthquake Shakes St. Louis Area


ST. LOUIS (AP) — There were no reports of major damage after a minor earthquake shook the St. Louis region at about 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Many people reported feeling the tremor, though.
The National Earthquake Information Center in Denver said the minor quake was centered 10 miles southeast of St. Louis, in East St. Louis, Illinois.
The center said the quake had a magnitude of 2.5 and probably didn’t signify a larger quake to come.
Such quakes happen about two or three times a year in the area, which sits near the New Madrid Fault.

5.2 earthquake recorded in Unimak Island region


According to the Associated Press, residents in the Felt Pass area of Unimak Island got a jolt this morning before their morning coffee.
The Alaska Earthquake Information center says a magnitude 5.2 earthquake was recorded just after six o’clock this morning. The quake was centered about 72 miles southwest of False Pass, at a depth of about five miles.
Officials say the earthquake was felt in False Pass. That’s a community of about 60 people located on the eastern shore of Unimak Island, about 650 miles southwest of Anchorage.

52,000 Deaths Spread Across 11 Nations · Disease Could Double Death Toll, WHO Says · At Least 12 U.S. Citizens Said Killed · More Than 800 Killed on Sri Lankan Train

Relief Effort Under Way as Death Toll Rises By ANDI DJATMIKO, AP

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Dec. 28) – Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia’s devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to around 52,000.

Emergency workers found that 10,000 people had been killed in a single town, Meulaboh, in Aceh province at the northern tip of Sumatra island, the hardest hit region in Indonesia, said Purnomo Sidik, national disaster director at the Social Affairs Ministry.

Another 9,000 were confirmed dead so far in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, and surrounding towns, he said. Along Aceh’s hard-hit western coastline, villages were swamped up to the roofs, still unexplored by soldiers combing the area for survivors and dead. Refugees fleeing the area described surviving for days on little more than coconuts before reaching Banda Aceh.

”The sea was full of bodies,” said Sukardi Kasdi, who reached the capital from his town of Surang.

With aid not arriving quick enough, desperate residents in Meulaboh and other towns in Aceh – a region that was unique in that it was struck both by Sunday’s massive quake and the killer waves that followed – began to loot.

”It is every person for themselves here,” district official Tengku Zulkarnain told el-Shinta radio station from the area.

In Sri Lanka, the toll also mounted significantly. Around 1,000 people were dead or missing from a train that was flung off its tracks when the gigantic waves hit. Rescuers pulled 204 bodies from the train’s eight carriages – reduced to twisted metal – and cremated or buried them Tuesday next to the railroad track that runs along the coast.

”Is this the fate that we had planned for? My darling, you were the only hope for me,” cried one man for his dead girlfriend – his university sweetheart
– as Buddhist monks held prayer nearby.

More than 18,700 people died in Sri Lanka, more than 4,400 in India and more than 1,500 in Thailand, with numbers expected to rise. Scores were also killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives. The giant waves raced nearly 3,000 miles to east Africa, causing deaths in Somalia, Tanzania and Seychelles.

And the toll was expected to continue to mount. A police official said 8,000 people were missing and possibly dead in India’s remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located just north of Sumatra. So far, only 90 people were confirmed dead in the archipelago of 30 inhabited islands. The Indonesian vice president estimated that up to 25,000 could be dead on Aceh’s western coastlines, bringing the country’s potential toll up to 50,000.

Europeans desperately sought relatives missing from holidays in Southeast Asia – particularly Thailand, where bodies littered the once crowded beach resorts. Near the devastated Similan Beach and Spa Resort, where mostly German tourists were staying, a naked corpse hung suspended from a tree Tuesday as if crucified.

A blond two-year-old Swedish boy, Hannes Bergstroem, found sitting alone on a road in Thailand was reunited with his uncle, who saw the boy’s picture on a Web site.

Luis Enrique Ascui, Reuters

A tsunami wave, triggered by an ocean-floor earthquake, is barely perceptible as it travels across the water, but its shoreline impact can be tremendous.

”This is a miracle, the biggest thing that could happen,” said the uncle, who identified himself as Jim, after flying from his home country to Thailand to reach Hannes at the hospital were the boy was being treated. The boy’s mother and grandmother were missing, while his father and grandfather were reportedly at another hospital.

The vacationing former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was evacuated by Sri Lankan military helicopter from the hotel he was trapped by flooding in the south of the country. In Thailand, Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova, who appeared on the cover of 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, was injured and her photographer boyfriend Simon Atlee was missing, Atlee’s agent said.

So far, more than 80 Westerners have been confirmed dead across the region – including 11 Americans. But a British consulate official in Thailand warned that hundreds more foreign tourists were likely killed in the country’s resorts.

Sunday’s massive quake of 9.0 magnitude off the Indonesian island of Sumatra sent 500-mph waves surging across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal in the deadliest known tsunami since the one that devastated the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in 1755 and killed an estimated 60,000 people.

Amid the devastation, however, were some miraculous stories of survival. In Malaysia, a 20-day-old baby was found alive on a floating mattress. She and her family were later reunited. A Hong Kong couple vacationing in Thailand clung to a mattress for six hours.

In Sri Lanka, more than 300 people crammed into the Infant Jesus Church at Orrs Hill, located on high ground from their ravaged fishing villages. Families and childres slept on pews and the cement floor.

”We had never seen the sea looking like that. It was like as if a calm sea had suddenly become a raging monster,” said one woman, Haalima, recalling the giant wave that swept away her 5-year-old grandson, Adil.


The time 00:58 UTC
The date December 26, 2004
The place Off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra
Located 3.2670N, 95.8210E
At a depth of 30Km (18.6miles)
The earth roared louder than a lion
Under the Indian Ocean
It trembled,
Was furious,
It yelled!
In anger it cracked!
Shook the land from Indonesia
To Thailand
To India
To Malaysia
To Sri Lanka
To Kenya
As far as Somalia
As it lowered back into the sea
It threw up massive water, produced wave
Washed away a whole generation
Then sank
And there was quietness in the land.

Debris covered the surface of water
Boats seen on land beyond imagination
Human bodies, float in exchange for fishes on land
Children were most hit
Cities sank
Where there was an Island before, two were seen
The earth shook to its very foundation
As Islands at the scene move farther
Still counting the losses
Figures climbing
Thousands still missing
Thousands injured
Foreigners from more than 36 nations confirmed dead
A day when there were no enough living
To bury the dead

In search of peace
In search of harmony
In search of quietness
Man abandoned the hassles of cities
Crawled to remote part on holiday
With children, Wives, Husbands
A whole family
To enjoy the nature
To take bath in the sun
With promises to come back
Only not to come back
As the earth shook
Threw up
Washed away
Then quietness

Promises gone with it
Tomorrow never came
No time to say good bye
One was left the other was taken
Children looking for parents
Parents looking for children
Dead everywhere
As the earth roared
In its furious she took away loved ones
While she yelled, she dismantled edifice
As it cracked, she cracked structures
As she threw up water she entered cities, buried cities
As she washed away, she took with her men, women, children, animals, animate, inanimate, things and beings
Then she sank
And there was quietness

Can man sit down for a minute?
Can man just humble self?
Just for a minute can man pause?
Can man see the damages he is causing his future?
In his greediness man rob himself of tomorrow
Having destroyed his yesterday
With no history of today
Thinking all in all that after all he is smart
With no sensors to warn
Animals detect the signal
The moved before the earth roared
The panicked on the mountain
The watched in amazement
As nature played
Then is man really smart?

As we stole from nature,
Nature is kind by looking away
Waiting quietly for a day of revenge
A day she will show no mercy
A day she will cause pains and agonies
And the day came
The earth roared louder than a lion
It trembled,
Was furious,
It yelled!
In anger it cracked!
As it lowered back into the sea
It threw up massive water, produced wave
Washed away a whole generation
Then sank
And there was quietness in the land.

We build cities from what we stole from earth
We continue pumping oil out of the ground
We engineered food
We engineered human being but nature was quiet
Watching us quietly
Waiting for the day of revenge
A day she will show no mercy
A day she will cause gnashing of teeth
And the day came
The earth roared louder than a lion
It trembled,
Was furious,
It yelled!
In anger it cracked!
As it lowered back into the sea
It threw up massive water, produced wave
Washed away a whole generation
Then sank
And there was quietness in the land.

Whatever we take from nature, shall nature take back.
Not tomorrow, not today but yesterday
Not the quantity taken but in thousands folds
Not where it was taken but somewhere else.
In unleashing its judgment,
It causes pains and agonies among innocents
Sparing the greediest of men
Robbing fathers of mothers
Denying children of parents
Submerging states, swallowing cities

In our greediness to consume all we met here
Nation wage war against nation
Bigger countries invade smaller ones
Millions carted into slavery
The destruction we witnessed today
Started years back
Whatever we take from nature, shall nature take back.
Not tomorrow, not today but yesterday
Not the quantity taken but in thousands folds
Not where it was taken but somewhere else.
In unleashing its judgment,
It causes pains and agonies among innocents

Submarines swimming under the sea
Earth so much disturbed
Under sea nuclear weapon test
Space exploration
As if humanity has more than a world
Or more than a life
Or more than an opportunity
As things will pass away
Whatever we take from nature, shall nature take back.
Not tomorrow, not today but yesterday
Not the quantity taken but in thousands folds
Not where it was taken but somewhere else.
In unleashing its judgment,
It causes pains and agonies among the innocents

Man compresses water
Blocked their path
We dammed denying other species along its path food
Nutrition, Hygiene
We pluck gold
Flaring gas to the atmosphere
With heat melting ice caps
Man should remember that
Whatever man takes from nature, shall nature take back.
Not tomorrow, not today but yesterday
Not the quantity taken but in thousands folds
Not where it was taken but somewhere else.
In unleashing its judgment,
It causes pains and agonies among innocents

May the souls of people killed by tsunami earthquake rest in peace

All Rights Reserved
Oladele O Olawole
African Information Service Center

MARCH 3,1974:A Turkish DC10 crashes near paris. After a faulty cargo door flies open,severe decompression collapses the aircraft’s floor,severing its hydraulic controls. 346 dead.

MARCH 27,1977:Two Boeing 747s,one operated by Pan American and one operated by Dutch airline Klm collide at Tenerife’s Los Rodeos airport,following confusion between pilots and ground controllers.

582 dead.

MAY 25,1979:An American Airline DC10 crashes on take off from Chicago,after an engine falls off. 273 dead.

August 19,1980:A burning Lockheed TriStar makes an emergency landing at Riyadh Airport,Saudi Arabia. A combination of crew errors leads to the deaths of all passengers on board. 301 dead.

September1,1983:A Korean Airlines 747 is shot down by Russian jets after straying into Soviet airspace. 269 dead.

JUNE 23,1985:An Air India 747 crashes into the sea off the Irish coast after a bomb explodes on board. 329 dead.

AUGUST 12,1985:A Japan Airlines Boeing 747 suffers total hydraulic failure,strikes Mount Osutaka and crashes 70 miles south of Tokyo. 520 dead.

JULY 3,1988:An Iran Air Airbus A300 is shot down over the Persian Gulf by the US Navy vessel Uss Vincennes. 290 dead.

December 21,1988:A terrorist bomb brings down Pan American 747 flight 103 over Lockerbie,Scotland. 270 dead.

November 12,1996:A Saudi Arabia Airlines 747 collides in mid-air with a Kazakhstan Airlines IIyushin 76 cargo jet near New Delhi,India. 349 dead.

SEPTEMBER 3,1998:Swissair 111 McDonnell Douglas MD11 plummrted from 11,000 metres into the sea off the coast of Nova Scotia,Canada,killing its 214 passengers and 14 crew.


(A few simple steps can boost your chances of survival).


Try to fly non- stop. Most accidents occur during takeoff or landing.

Choose larger aircraft. Planes with more than 30 passengers seats have to adhere to the strictest regulations. Studies show that larger aircraft also offer the best passenger survival rates.


Minimize your hand luggage. Excess baggage can block escape routes or become a hazard in itself.

Do not pack hazardous objects or materials. Nothing corrosive,infectious,poisonous,magnetic or highly flammable. Definitely no explosives.


Wear clothes made of natural fibres,such as cotton,wool,denim and leather. If evacuating an aircraft via escape slides,the friction can cause synthetics such as nylon and polyester to melt causing second and even third degree burns to the body and legs.

Wear clothes that are non restrictive.

Do not wear short pants,short skirts or short sleeves. Protect your extremities against cuts and minor burns.

Do not wear high heeled shoes or sandals.


Do not store heavy objects in the overhead bins. These could come loose while passing through turbulence.

Pay attention to the preflight demo. You will be told where the exits are,how to operate your seatbelt and where the safety instructions card is located.

Read the safety instructions card. It will reiterate the demo and show you the ‘brace position for impact.


Keep your seatbelt fastened throughout. When passing through turbulence,planes can drop hundreds of feet without warning. Passengers not suitably restrained can suffer serious injuries,including broken bones.

Listen to the flight attendants. Do what they say first,ask questions later.

Don’t drink too much. Beware,airplane cabin pressure is less than atmospheric pressure on the ground,meaning alcohol will affect you more. If you’re drunk you’re chances of making it out of a crash will be substantially reduced.

keep your wits about you. Alert the flight attendants to anything you think is unusual.



Know where the exits are. The cabin may fill with smoke,obscuring your vision,so count the number of seats rows to the nearest exit-this won’t necessarily be the door you entered the plane by.

Know how to operate doors.

Know how to unfasten your seat belt.

know the brace position.

Don’t stop to collect your lugguage. During an accident in Los Angeles 28 people died when one passenger stopped to retrieve their bags from the overhead compartment.


Keep your head down. Smoke rises,most of the oxygen will be near the floor.

Hold some fabric(eg, a headrest cover) over your nose and mouth. This works best if the fabric is wet.

Keep your eyes closed.

even better,carry a smokehood,smoke inhalation,rather than burns,is responsible for most deaths in a cabin fire.


Sit down and stay seated.

Fasten your seat belt.

Grab the nearest oxygen mask and pull it to your face. Mask will automatically drop from above your head during a decompression,but it’s the pulling action of bringing it to your face which activates the oxygen supply.

Stay calm. The pilot’s first action will be to take the plane down to an altitude where there is a breathable amount of oxygen as fast as possible. The steep descent doesn’t necessarily mean the plane is crashing.


Don’t inflate your life jacket until you leave. It may hamper your escape and may even tear and deflate if it catches on debris.

Stay tother and try to stay dry.

If you’re in the water,swim to others and huddle tother for warmth.



1978 913 members of the People’s Temple followed their leader, Jim Jones, into eternity by committing mass suicide with poisoned drinks in the Guyanese jungle.

1994 Since 1994, 74 followers of the Order of The Solar Temple have committed suicide. Many of the bodies were found burned in houses and chalets in France and Switzerland; five bodies were found in a chalet in Canada. The order believes death voyages by ritualised suicide lead to rebirth in a place called Sirius.

1995 Aum Supreme Truth (since renamed Aleph) staged a sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways, killing 12 and leaving 3800 sick. The group preached the world would end in 1997 and only its followers would be left to start a “new race”.

1997 Thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate cult killed themselves inside a mansion in San Diego as the Hale-Bopp comet neared Earth. They predicted their immortal essences would reunite with extra-terrestrial powers travelling in a spaceship shrouded by the tail of the comet.