Friday, November 15, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**Human history becomes more and more a race
between education and catastrophe.**
H. G. Wells

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 11/14/13 -
None 5.0 or higher.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical depression 32w (Podul) is located approximately 213 nm east-northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Current forecast calls for it to cross all the way over to other side and eventually approach India.

Typhoon survivors outlook is bleak despite aid effort - Aid workers say the situation facing survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is bleak, a week after the storm tore into the country. The logistical issues of distributing aid are enormous.
In the ruined city of Tacloban, US military aircraft are beginning to bring in aid. Workers who had visited Guiuan, in eastern Samar, described the situation faced by the 45,000 people there as "bleak". "What we saw there was that a public hospital had been, basically, destroyed. We are moving this as quickly as we possibly can, but the logistical issues are enormous and they shouldn't be underestimated."
After earlier problems with looting, some supplies are now getting in. The official government death toll was 3,422 as of Thursday, and the actual number is likely to be higher. The widespread devastation caused by the typhoon is making confirming casualties and collating information difficult. Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on land.
As a huge international relief operation swung into action, aircraft carrier the USS George Washington and two cruisers arrived in Philippine waters on Thursday. The carrier is expanding search-and-rescue operations and providing a platform for helicopters to move supplies. The US military says its support will be on an unprecedented scale, with other US vessels due to arrive in about a week. Pallets loaded with food and water have been taken from the aircraft carrier to Tacloban, the capital of badly hit Leyte province, and Guiuan.
Relief efforts across the worst hit areas are now said to be progressing. "There is a danger of focusing on Tacloban. We need to get [aid] out to other parts of Leyte and Samar as soon as possible... we'll be here for some time to come." Many of the dozens of bodies lying in the open since Typhoon Haiyan struck are now being cleared from the streets and buried.
"In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough. The need is massive, the need is immediate, and you can't reach everyone." Many countries have pledged help in the shape of financial aid, relief supplies or emergency teams. The UK government is sending the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, more than £20m ($32m) in aid, a team of medical experts and an RAF transport aircraft. Japan is also preparing to send up to 1,000 troops as well as naval vessels and aircraft. On Friday, it pledged a $40m (£25m) disaster-relief grant to the Philippines, in addition to an earlier $10m pledge. China - which is engaged in a territorial dispute with the Philippines - is sending 10m yuan ($1.6m; £1m) in relief goods. Its initial pledge of $200,000 (£120,000) from the government and Chinese Red Cross combined drew criticism in US media, but was also condemned by some Chinese internet users as excessive.

+ Devastated Philippine island of Leyte still desperate for help - Video (2:29)

+ What is making the Philippine typhoon relief effort so difficult? - Video (1:52)


Storm leaves trail of damage in western Alaska coastal villages - A storm that battered western Alaska over the weekend destroyed water lines in Kotlik and Unalakleet and left a trail of damage along the Bering Sea coast.
Kotlik, a community of about 600 people in the Yukon River Delta, took the brunt of the storm's blow. A rushing surge of seawater and ice destroyed the village's sewer and water distribution lines and damaged at least five homes. The storm also broke a five-mile-long water supply pipe in Unalakleet. Elsewhere, a Stebbins resident reported flooding around numerous homes as well as damage to a road across from the school. Damage was also reported in other villages, including Shaktoolik and Golovin. No one was reported injured.
Kotlik School served as the village evacuation center. More than 200 people stayed at the school Sunday night. Most left on Monday, but some elderly villagers remained, in classrooms where beds had been fashioned out of velcro pads ripped from gym walls. The school was shut down until at least Wednesday. The floodwaters shifted the school's outdoor concrete basketball court 500 yards -- it now sits intact behind the village post office.
Recovery efforts focused on clearing large ice chunks from the village's main boardwalk, which is also the main transportation corridor to the local airstrip. Initial damage estimates were between $500,000 to a million dollars. Kotlik's piped vacuum sewer and circulating water utility corridor -- known in village Alaska as the utilidor -- were both badly damaged by the storm. The flood surge pushed back the utilidor, breaking it in half up against the boardwalk, and also tore water and sewer lines from individual homes.
Meanwhile, officials said Kotlik's fresh water supply is expected to run out in five days. For now, people in the village will use honeybuckets, the five-gallon pails used for toilets and dumped at community disposal sites -- a sanitary and health risk that's the reason communities like Kotlik switched to a community sewer system. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. is sending someone to Kotlik with a water purification device the community can use while the water plant is down. Village leaders are also attempting to organize bottled water donations.
A resident who came to Kotlik in 1969 said the damage is the worst he's ever seen. Mud now cakes the floor of his house, where his family returned Monday to try to clean up the debris. He also lost a freezer full of food. With the National Weather Service predicting a second storm moving in, he was preparing Monday evening to return his family to the school evacuation center. "We're getting all our blankets and sleeping bags ready, getting ready for the next emergency. We'll be coming back to a broken home."
Kotlik is located in the Yukon River Delta on the east bank of the Kotlik Slough, 165 miles northwest of Bethel and 460 miles from Anchorage. The storm affected communities up and down the coast, but the heaviest damage centered on a 200-mile stretch between Scammon Bay and Unalakleet. Up the coast, in Unalakleet, city officials were working Monday on a temporary repair to a coast-hugging pipe that carries raw water to the community for treatment. The storm generated a 12- to 14-foot surge that destroyed several hundred feet of the pipe and a section of nearby road in an erosion-prone area.
The city hopes to replace the broken section of pipe with a permanent, buried section though the pending storm could complicate that work. "The next storm coming doesn't sound like it's going to be as bad. From the west, it fights the current so we don't get a big surge like we do with the southerlies, they follow the current." The storm also temporarily closed the airport runways in Unalakleet.
In Stebbins, flooding moved homes around and damaged outbuildings including smoke houses. Some Internet connections were down. Numerous other villages reported at least minor damage. Some communities also got hit with heavy snow. A trooper in Kotzebue said winter conditions Monday morning meant they couldn't get out to survey potential damage.
Unseasonably warm fall temperatures have left the coast without the armor of solid sea ice that protects it from storms, a scenario that also occurred in with the "epic" November 2011 storm that hammered comunities from Point Lay to Newtok. It was 37 degrees in Unalakleet just a few days ago. "The ocean never froze up, if it's frozen or slushy, that helps a lot."


Amazon destruction up 28% in a year - Brazil says the rate of deforestation in the Amazon increased by 28% between August 2012 and last July, after four years of steady decline.


Unpredictable pandemics' warning - The world needs to be prepared for "unpredictable pandemics" from viruses making the leap from animals to people, scientists in Taiwan say. Their warning follows the first reported case of a common bird flu, H6N1, being detected in a woman, earlier this year. The patient recovered and no other cases have been detected.
But the report said "intensive" monitoring of bird flu was needed. In May 2013, the first human case of an H6N1 bird flu was detected in a woman in Taiwan. One of her neighbours bred ducks, geese and chickens - although the precise source of the infection has not been detected. Many sub-types of influenza, such as those that cause seasonal flu or the swine flu pandemic, are known to infect people, but H6N1 is not one of them.
"The occurrence of a human case of H6N1 infection shows the unpredictability of influenza viruses. Our report highlights the need for influenza pandemic preparedness , including intensive surveillance for ever evolving avian influenza viruses." These infections may have happened in the past but improved technology meant this one had been discovered. " Is this a truly new thing or are we now just better at seeing it?"
They expect far more of these cases to be reported in the next few years as more hospitals were geared up to look for novel bird flus. "This is a single case with no evidence of human transmission, but as always we should keep an eye on it and do studies to see how close it is to being able to spread between humans."

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