Thursday, June 20, 2013

India - Military helicopters and the army are leading rescue operations in India's flood-hit northern states, where 138 people are now known to have died. About 10,000 people have been rescued in worst-hit Uttarakhand state over three days. Tens of thousands of pilgrims are still stranded in Uttarakhand, where more than 100 people have been killed.
Flood-related deaths have also been reported in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh states and neighbouring Nepal. At least 22 people have been killed and 18 are missing in landslides and floods triggered by heavy rainfall in remote parts of Nepa. More than 100 homes - mostly in western Nepal - had been damaged by the floods and the government has agreed to step up relief efforts at an emergency meeting.
The scale of devastation in Uttarakhand is staggering. As rescuers establish contact with more of the affected villages and settlements, they say many have been flattened to the ground. Most of the temple town of Kedarnath - apart from the main Shiva temple - is buried under mud and debris. There are scenes of devastation everywhere. Officials said it would take at least three to four years to get the town back on its feet.
Many of the villages remain cut off with emergency workers unable to reach marooned villages. There are are reported to be groups of people stranded in remote areas without any supplies. Most roads are still closed and many bridges, homes, schools and hotels have been damaged, hampering the relief operation.
The monsoon season generally lasts from June to September, bringing rain which is critical to the farming output of both countries, but this year the rain in the north of India and parts of Nepal has been heavier than usual. The situation in Uttarakhand was "really very bad." The floods have swept away buildings and triggered landslides in some places, blocking roads. More than 20 bridges have collapsed.
Portions of a Hindu temple in Kedarnath were washed away and the shrine was "submerged in mud and slush." Mre than 62,000 pilgrims were stranded at various places. Most of the pilgrims - bound for local Himalayan shrines - are stranded in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts after roads caved in and bridges collapsed. "We were stuck in the car for 14 hours, we spent the entire night there. The mountains were collapsing above us, while a river in spate was raging below us. There was a huge traffic jam, we could neither go forward, nor move back. Anything could have happened. It was raining heavily and we were afraid that there might be a landslide."
"It's been a harrowing trip for us. We hear the roads are all broken, cars and shops have been swept away. It is frightening. We are very lucky to be alive." The number of dead was expected to rise as rescue workers had still not reached many affected areas.
In Himachal Pradesh, where at least 10 people have been killed in landslides, the Chief Minister was himself stranded in Kinnaur district for nearly 60 hours. He was evacuated on Tuesday by a helicopter hired by his Congress party. (photos)

**Grudges are for those
who insist that they are owed something;
forgiveness, however, is for those
who are substantial enough to move on.**
Criss Jami


Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/19/13 -

Russia - Earthquake Damages 500 Homes in Kemerovo Region. Over 500 homes have been damaged in the village of Bachatsky as a result of an earthquake that struck the Kemerovo on Wednesday. It was the STRONGEST EARTHQUAKE TO HAVE STRUCK THE REGION IN OVER 100 YEARS and was felt 300 kilometers away in Novosibirsk.
The U.S. Geological Service said it registered a magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale, but Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry estimated it to be magnitude 4.3. It occurred at 3 a.m. Moscow time. A local official confirmed preliminary reports that about 500 homes had sustained damage ranging from cracks in the walls to collapsed walls, ceilings and chimneys.
Power was cut off that morning, but has now been restored, while the water supply and communications links were not affected. However, an official in Bachatsky village said the locals are afraid to enter their homes after the earthquake for fear of collapsing walls and are staying outside.
The director of the Geophysical Service at the Siberian chapter Russian Academy of Sciences said the earthquake was provoked by human industrial activity. The Kemerovo region has one of the largest coal basins in the country where coal is produced in open-pit mines. Explosives are frequently used to delve deeper into the ground, which could have triggered local tectonic processes.
The nearby Bachatsky open-pit coal mine is gigantic: 11 kilometers long, more than two kilometers wide, with a depth of 350 meters. The earthquake took place in the immediate vicinity of the mine, only 800 meters away from the mine's administration building. The Regional Governor has ordered all work at underground mines in the Kemerovo Region, part of Russia's Kuzbass coal-producing heartland, to be suspended.

Volcano Webcams

Mexico - "Popo" Eruption Rattles 25-Mile Radius. On June 18 a local webcam caught THE BIGGEST ERUPTION IN TWO YEARS. It released a massive ash cloud that shot more than a mile skyward and flung “incandescent fragments” for nearly 330 feet. The volcano violently released ash and gas clouds high into the air and created a shockwave. Footage has emerged of the volcano erupting spectacularly and sending the large shock wave over the mountain.


In the Atlantic -
Tropical Storm Barry was located about 40 mi (60 km) NE of Veracruz, Mexico. The center is forecast to reach the coast in the state of Veracruz this morning. Barry is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches with maximum amounts of 10 inches across portions of southern Mexico. These rains could cause life-threatening flash flooding and mud slides, especially in mountainous areas.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Leepi was located about 132 nm west-northwestward of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

Tropical Storm Barry formed off Mexico's Gulf Coast on Wednesday, prompting Mexican authorities to ready hundreds of shelters. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the Atlantic hurricane season’s second tropical storm was drenching areas in its path with up to 10 inches of rain in some places, raising the threat of flash floods.
Barry was expected strengthen slightly before making landfall but would weaken soon after. In Veracruz state 2,000 shelters had been readiedwith mattresses, blankets, water and canned food. Shelters at schools and recreation centers could house up to 306,000 people. The port of Veracruz was closed to small vessels because of the strong winds.
A tropical storm with six lives - the history of Barry.


Australia - RECORD WINTER COLD welcome in Melbourne. What do the winter solstice, clear skies and light winds make? The perfect recipe for the COLDEST MELBOURNE MORNING IN MORE THAN A DECADE. "We're only one day away from the winter solstice and that, combined with a high pressure right over most of Victoria, clear skies, dry, low-level air and light winds allows maximum heat loss."
Winter signalled its arrival in the city with the temperature dropping to a chilly 2.3C at 6.55am (AEST) on Thursday. It's the coldest June morning since 2002, when the mercury hit 1.6C, and the equal coldest Melbourne morning since July 7 last year. It was even colder in Melbourne's outer suburbs - it was minus 4C in Coldstream and minus 1C at Viewbank and Scoresby. Melburnians should be prepared for more chilly mornings, with temperatures likely to be as low as 4C until next Wednesday.


Relief on way for Alaska after RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURES - Cordova and Valdez, both along the southern coast, saw a record-breaking 90 degrees Monday. "An expansive ridge of high pressure over Southern Alaska is continuing the string of UNUSUALLY HOT days."


New respiratory virus worse than SARS - The mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors report.
More than 60 cases of what is now called MERS, including 38 deaths, have been recorded by the World Health Organisation in the past year, mostly in Saudi Arabia. So far, illnesses haven't spread as quickly as SARS did in 2003, ultimately killing about 800 people worldwide. An international team of doctors who investigated nearly two dozen cases in eastern Saudi Arabia found the new coronavirus has some striking similarities to SARS. Unlike SARS, though, scientists remain baffled as to the source of MERS.
In a worrying finding, the team said on Wednesday, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) not only spreads easily between people, but within hospitals. That was also the case with SARS, a distant relative of the new virus. "To me, this felt a lot like SARS did."
They couldn't nail down how it was spread in every case - through droplets from sneezing or coughing, or a more indirect route. Some of the hospital patients weren't close to the infected person, but somehow picked up the virus. "In the right circumstances, the spread could be explosive."
Cases have continued to trickle in, and there appears to be an ongoing outbreak in Saudi Arabia. MERS cases have also been reported in Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Tunisia. Most have had a direct connection to the Middle East region. In the Saudi cluster that was investigated, certain patients infected many more people than would be expected.
Symptoms of both diseases are similar, with an initial fever and cough that may last for a few days before pneumonia develops. But MERS appears far more lethal. Compared with SARS' 8 per cent death rate, the fatality rate for MERS in the Saudi outbreak was about 65 per cent, though the experts could be missing mild cases that might skew the figures.
While SARS was traced to bats before jumping to humans via civet cats, the source of the MERS virus remains a mystery. It is most closely related to a bat virus though some experts suspect people may be getting sick from animals such as camels or goats. Another hypothesis is that infected bats may be contaminating foods such as dates, commonly harvested and eaten in Saudi Arabia.