Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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

**I have often regretted my speech,
never my silence.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 11/12/13 -

Italy - Mt. Etna erupts with spectacular show. After 16 days of tiny ash explosions, Mt. Etna had a spectacular eruption. It began on Sunday evening, and it went on for hours. The bad weather conditions made it difficult to see the eruption, but the contrasts between the ash clouds and the red lava was still quite a show. There were some problems at the airport Catania Fontanarossa, especially as the weather overcast made it difficult to better monitor the evolving situation. (video)

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.

China hit by Typhoon Haiyan - 15 inches of rain, 7 dead, $700 million in damage. Super Typhoon Haiyan is gone, but not before adding China to its list of ravaged nations in Asia.
Haiyan made landfall on the northern Vietnam coast near the Chinese border as a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds on Sunday, and spread torrential rains into southern China of up to 38 centimeters (15 inches) over some parts of Guangxi province, which caused up to $700 million in damage to agricultural, forestry, poultry and fishing industries there. Seven people were killed in China on hard-hit Hainan Island, with three others missing.
In Vietnam, at least 13 people died and 81 were injured from the storm. In Taiwan, huge 26-foot waves from Haiyan swept 16 people out to sea on Sunday, killing 8 of them.
The devastation wrought by Haiyan in the Philippines is among the most severe punishments ever inflicted by a tropical cyclone in modern history. With an official death toll of 1,774, Haiyan already ranks as the 3rd deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. The deadliest typhoon in Philippine history was Typhoon Thelma of 1991, which killed between 5101 - 8000 people.
A tropical disturbance (Zoraida) that passed over the Philippines Island of Mindanao (Invest 90W), brought heavy rains of 82 mm (3.2 inches) of rain in the 24 hours ending 8am Philippines time Tuesday (7pm Monday EST) to Davao City on Mindanao. Heavy rains fell over the disaster area in the Central Philippines, as well, hampering relief efforts. However, the storm is now leaving the islands, and water vapor satellite loops show a large area of dry air to the east of the Philippines. The disturbance still has a high chance of development into a tropical depression.
The GFS model is not predicting any new tropical cyclones forming in the Western Pacific over the coming seven days.

Before-and-after satellite images - Several hours before Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 7, satellites collected more than 7,300 square miles of imagery in the areas hardest hit by the typhoon. More images were taken Nov. 10, after Haiyan wiped out Tacloban, one of the first islands in the direct path of the ferocious tropical storm.
Philippines storm survivors 'desperate for aid' - People are growing increasingly desperate for food, water and medical supplies in typhoon-hit parts of the Philippines. Only minimal amounts of water, food and medical supplies are making it to the survivors in the Philippines' hardest-hit areas. "There is desperation and we are losing hope".
The quest for clean water has become a life-or-death ordeal in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan's massive storm surge and high winds devastated the country and quick action needs to be taken to prevent further disease and dehydration. International health officials rushed Tuesday to help the estimated 9.6 million people affected by the record storm that struck the region Saturday, wrecking the already-fragile water system and raising the risk of water-borne diseases such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid fever.
“I and my fellow aid workers arrived safety in Tacloban, but the way we took last night looks like an endless path of misery." Access to water is key now, five days after the typhoon. “We need to get people into shelter and get them clean water and food." The very young and the very old are the most vulnerable and doctors say they’ve already have seen life-threatening cases of dehydration.
People are boiling their water, but that has not been enough to keep some of the most vulnerable citizens safe. "We had cases of severely dehydrated children from dysentery." Visto said. In addition to clean water, medical workers need basic supplies and electricity to do their job. Some of the most obvious stop-gap solutions may only serve to make matters worse. Simply shipping in bottled water isn’t a solution because it encourages looting and doesn’t solve the larger problem.
Instead, officials are working to install 20,000-gallon tanks in three central locations in Eastern Samar, Cebu and Leyte, 30 minutes outside Tacloban City. The water will be chlorinated and sent through local pipes for public use. The effort came as emergency workers struggled to assess the scope of the humanitarian toll that has displaced more than 615,000 people. “Just getting a handle on the exact devastation has taken four days now, which is a little unusual. The emergency health care need is huge. It’s an area that has a fragile health care system anyway.”
But the need is for skilled, self-sufficient helpers. They urged people without specific disaster relief experience to stay away and leave room for those who know what they’re doing. “As of now, I would prefer experienced disaster teams that follow international humanitarian guidelines”. Emergency responders have been grappling with the devastating effects of the storm surge, which hit land in seven places. There were drownings and also severe injuries caused by fast-moving debris tossed by the rushing water.
“It’s a complex combination of both blunt and penetrating trauma." Many of those who weren’t physically hurt have been devastated by the emotional toll of losing their homes and not knowing the fate of loved ones. “It’s normal to see people tired and hungry here but what struck me is when I saw this one man sobbing, making use of his bag as a pillow and falling debris as his blanket. He sobs out of misery, ‘I’ve been everywhere to look for my two children, my wife and my mother, but I can’t find them.'’”
This catastrophe comes on the heels of a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that struck the Philippines on Oct. 15. “They’re receiving a double disaster with this typhoon. Now there’s news of a tropical storm approaching. They’re just getting hit one after the other.”
Over one million farmers in the Philippines have been impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice have been destroyed. Coconut plantations which are a big earner of foreign currency are said to be "completely flattened". Fishing communities have also be severely affected with the storm destroying boats and gear.
The pathway the storm took as it passed across the country - "That area is the major rice producing area for the Philippines. They've just finished their harvest and because it is not modernised production, they are still drying it but we suspect there is a lot of rice that is vulnerable to having been impacted by the storms." The farmers are also facing into the next planting season with much of their infrastructure such as irrigation equipment affected by the typhoon.
The Philippines has been importing less rice over the past five years, but the storm will have dramatically changed that. "It will set them back on their goal of self sufficiency but more key is that those livelihoods will be pushed way back until they get restored irrigation infrastructure. That has been severely damaged in most cases." As well as rice and sugar cane, the most concern is about coconut plantations.
Coconuts account for nearly half the Philippines agricultural exports and the country is the world's biggest producer of coconut oil. A smaller typhoon last year destroyed 500,000 tonnes. "The sugar cane fields can be recovered relatively well even if the harvest is lost. But numerous coconut plantations have been completely flattened, and with coconuts you are looking at multiple years to recover the productivity."
The death toll from Friday's typhoon may be lower than first thought. The number of 10,000 killed is said to be "too high" and the figure is more likely up to 2,500. But more than 11 million people are believed to have been affected and some 673,000 displaced.
The relief operation is being stepped up, but many are still without aid. So where is the aid? That was the question on everyone's lips in the district of Pawing, outside Tacloban. Nearly every house has either been flattened or left without roofs or windows. People are living amid the sodden debris that was once their homes. They are wet, hungry, and increasingly angry as they made the long trek into Tacloban in search of food, and returned empty-handed. One long queue outside a food warehouse quickly broke down into a free-for-all, people grabbing whatever they could.
The local government was pretty much wiped out by the typhoon. That's why the central government has taken over the running of Tacloban. But it is almost invisible. Without power or phone communications, people have no idea whether anything is being done for them.
The airport, while badly battered, is functioning. Planes come and go, several every hour. But they are not bringing much in, only taking people out. The Philippine army and police are very visible there, much less so in the rest of the city. By day five of a disaster like this, you would expect to see some preparations for a scaled-up aid program at the airport. There are still very few signs of that here. Instead, there are still corpses, lying uncollected, at the end of the runway.
Aid agencies have warned that the security situation is worsening. There are reports of food warehouses and grocery shops being ransacked and people starting to fear for their safety. An aid convoy travelling to Tacloban is reported to have been attacked and two of the assailants shot dead by troops. The damage to infrastructure is making the aid effort more difficult. Large crowds gathered at the airport hoping to be evacuated, leading to scuffles with the security forces.
Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated before the typhoon arrived, but many evacuation centres were unable to withstand the winds and storm surges. Haiyan brought sustained winds of 235km/h (147mph), with gusts of 275 km/h (170 mph) and waves as high as 15m (45ft). The destruction in the city of Tacloban is being compared to that seen after the devastating tsunami of 2004. "There is currently no food, water or electricity. We can only imagine how much worse the situation will be for families living in towns and remote villages."
The earlier figure of 10,000 feared killed came from a police officer and local official and may have arisen from the "emotional trauma" of being at the centre of the disaster. 29 municipalities had yet to be contacted to establish the number of victims there. The number of injured stands at 2,582 with 82 listed as missing. (several videos, photos and map at link)

Somalia's government has declared the north-eastern region of Puntland hit by a tropical cyclone at the weekend a disaster area. The number of people killed by the cyclone has risen from about 100 to 300, unconfirmed reports say. Thousands of livestock also died and hundreds of homes had been destroyed by the cyclone, known as 03A. More floods were expected during the next 48 hours.
The cyclone swept through the Eyl, Beyla, Dangorayo and Hafun districts along the eastern coast and across to Alula at the tip of the Horn of Africa. "Preliminary information indicates that homes, buildings, boats and entire villages have been destroyed and over 100,000 livestock lost, endangering the livelihoods of tens of thousands of local people." Relief efforts have been hampered after roads and air strips were washed away. Electricity has also been disrupted and mobile phone masts destroyed, making communication extremely difficult. Trucks loaded with 60 tonnes of food, clean water and blankets headed are stuck in Puntland's Nugal region because flash floods have made many areas inaccessible.

India - Odisha's Ganjam district still without power. Darkness still grips several rural areas of cyclone-ravaged Ganjam district in Odisha even though exactly a month has passed since Cyclone Phailin.


Slideshow: Amazing sinkholes - 19 photos.

Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan were the countries hit hardest by extreme weather in 2012.


UK researchers have been awarded an emergency grant to track a vast iceberg in Antarctica that could enter shipping lanes. Latest images show several kilometres of water between the iceberg, estimated to be about 700 sq km (270 sq miles), and the glacier that spawned the block. The £50,000 award will fund a six-month project that will also predict its movement through the Southern Ocean.
Scientists first noticed a spectacular crack spreading across the surface of the PIG in October 2011. The icy giant broke away from the Pine Island Glacier in July. "From the time it had been found that the crack had gone all the way across in July, it had stayed iced-in because it was still winter (in Antarctica). But in the last couple of days, it has begun to break away and now a kilometre or two of clear water has developed between it and the glacier. It often takes a while for bergs from this area to get out of Pine Island Bay but once they do that they can either go eastwards along the coast or they can… circle out into the main part of the Southern Ocean."
One iceberg was tracked going through The Drake Passage - the body of water between South America's Cape Horn and Antarctica's South Shetland Islands. If the iceberg did follow this trajectory, it would bring the Singapore-size ice island into busy international shipping lanes. Pine Island Glacier is described as the longest and fastest flowing glacier in the Antarctic, with vast icebergs being calved from ice shelf every 6-10 years. Previous notable events occurred in 2007 and 2001.
As well as tracking the movement of the iceberg, Prof Bigg explained that the team also planned to predict its path through the Southern Ocean. "Part of the project is to try and simulate what we think the berg might do, given the... wind fields being experiencing in the region recently." If the berg did move towards or into shipping lanes then a warning would be issued.

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