Monday, March 3, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

No update on Tuesday this week.

**Don't spur a willing horse.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 3/2/14 -

Magnitude 6.4 quake hit off Okinawa, Japan on Sunday, but no tsunami was expected. It was a very strong deep earthquake off the Ryukyu Islands, 89 miles north-northwest of Naha.

6.2 magnitude quake shook Nicaragua - The epicentre of the quake was in the ocean 23 kilometres west-southwest of the town of Jiquilillo, and 160 kilometres west-northwest of the capital.

Thousands in Guatemala facing evacuation as Pacaya volcano erupts. The volcano began spewing ash and lava after a powerful explosion on Saturday afternoon. New explosions were seen on Sunday, with ash clouds reaching a height or at least 4km (3 miles). Flights have been diverted from the area, some 50km (30 miles) south of the capital, Guatemala City.
The Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in the Central American nation. The other two are the Fuego and the Santa Maria. "We are assessing with the National Disaster Management Centre whether we will need to evacuate the 3,000 people who live in the villages of El Rodeo and Patrocinio. Access to the areas around the volcano has been suspended." The Guatemalan authorities have issued an amber alert, the third highest. It means people must remain alert and be prepared to leave the area at short notice. An eruption in January sent lava flowing down one side of the volcano.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Faxai is located approximately 308 nm east-southeast of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

* In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Kofi is located approximately 661 nm southeast of Suva, Fiji.


U.S. - Winter storm shuts down federal, local offices in Washington DC. A massive winter storm packing cold air, snow and freezing rain was bearing down on the US East Coast, causing federal and local offices in Washington to close on Monday after it pummeled the central United States over the weekend.
The National Weather Service predicted the storm will bring up to 23 cm of snow to the Washington area. The storm "is going to be a real mess. The main system is injecting a lot of moisture and cold air out over the Southern Plains. It's going to bring quite a bit of precipitation."

Extreme Winter Weather In The US Likely To Skew Economic Data - The US stock market has seen months of subpar economic data, some of which has been blamed partially on the brutal Winter weather.


Monsanto's Roundup may be linked to fatal kidney disease, a new study suggests. A heretofore inexplicable fatal, chronic kidney disease that has affected poor farming regions around the globe may be linked to the use of biochemical giant Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide in areas with hard water.
Researchers suggest that Roundup, or glyphosate, becomes highly toxic to the kidney once mixed with “hard” water or metals like arsenic and cadmium that often exist naturally in the soil or are added via fertilizer. Hard water contains metals like calcium, magnesium, strontium, and iron, among others. On its own, glyphosate is toxic, but not detrimental enough to eradicate kidney tissue.
The glyphosate molecule was patented as a herbicide by Monsanto in the early 1970s. The company soon brought glyphosate to market under the name “Roundup,” which is now the most commonly used herbicide in the world. The hypothesis helps explain a global rash of the mysterious, fatal Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology (CKDu) that has been found in rice paddy regions of northern Sri Lanka, for example, or in El Salvador, where CKDu is the second leading cause of death among males.
Furthermore, the study’s findings explain many observations associated with the disease, including the linkage between the consumption of hard water and CKDu, as 96 percent of patients have been found to have consumed “hard or very hard water for at least five years, from wells that receive their supply from shallow regolith aquifers.”
The CKDu was discovered in rice paddy farms in northern Sri Lanka around 20 years ago. The condition has spread quickly since then and now affects 15 percent of working age people in the region, or a total of 400,000 patients. At least 20,000 have died from CKDu there. CKDu does not share common risk factors as chronic kidney disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and glomerular nephritis, or inflammation of the kidney.
Based on geographical and socioeconomical factors associated with CKDu, it was assumed that environmental and occupational variables would offer clues to the disease’s origins – in this case, it came from chemicals. Even the World Health Organization has found that CKDu is caused by exposure to arsenic, cadmium, and pesticides, in addition to hard water consumption, low water intake, and exposure to high temperatures. Yet why in that certain area of Sri Lanka and why the disease didn’t show prior to the mid-1990s was left unanswered.
Researchers point out that political changes in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s led to the introduction of agrochemicals, especially in rice farming. They believe that 12 to 15 years of exposure to “low concentration kidney-damaging compounds” along with their accumulation in the body led to the appearance of CKDu in the mid-90s.
Scientists have derived three ways of exposure to glyphosate-metal complexes (GMCs): consumption of contaminated hard water, food, or the complex could be formed directly within circulation with glyphosate coming from dermal/respiratory route and metals from water and foods. Rice farmers, for example, are at high risk of exposure to GMCs through skin absorption, inhalation, or tainted drinking water. GMCs seem to evade the normal liver’s detoxification process, thus damaging kidneys, the study found.
The study also suggests that glyphosate could be linked to similar epidemics of kidney disease of unknown origin in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and India. Recent investigations by the Center for Public Integrity found that, in the last five years, CKDu is responsible for more deaths in El Salvador and Nicaragua than diabetes, AIDS, and leukemia combined.

Rise in number of rare birth defects in Washington leaves epidemiologists baffled. Babies are being born without parts of skulls and brains four times more often than normal in Washington state. The cause of this fatal birth defect remains a mystery.
Anencephaly, a rare, tragic birth defect, causes infants to be born missing parts of their brains and/or skulls. The number of cases in Washington state has recently skyrocketed lately, and epidemiologists are uncertain what is causing the fatal condition. An investigation of health records in three counties of the state revealed 23 cases of anencephaly in 36 months, between January 2010 and 2013. This translates to a rate of 8.4 births out of every 10,000. That is four times the normal occurrence for the rare disorder.
No major organization has yet made a goal of finding the source of these deaths. Environmental factors are often responsible for birth defects. Anencephaly begins in the first month of pregnancy, before most women realize they are pregnant. Like spina bifida, it is classed as a neural tube defect. During early stages of fetal development, a "neural tube" forms and closes. This structure creates the skull, brain, and spinal cord in babies. In cases of anencephaly, most of the skull or brain never forms. Those fetuses who are not stillborn, die soon after birth.
One of the challenges presented to potential researchers is the lack of consistent medical records. While one doctor might ask if a person's home is near a landfill, another might fail to ask. This makes it difficult, at best, to gather accurate data. "Medical record reviews might not have captured all information, preventing a cause from being identified."
The exact causes of neural tube defects are not yet known. Data collected so far say mothers are more likely to have affected babies if they are obese, have uncontrolled diabetes, or take certain anti-seizure medications. The National Institute for Health recommends adequate levels of folic acid for women who may become pregnant. A nurse who first noticed the spike in cases has been critical of the response from the state since she noticed the spike.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at case histories of 27 women who had given birth to babies with NTD conditions. Researchers asked the women about living habits and possible risk factors. "No statistically significant differences were identified between cases and controls, and a clear cause of the elevated prevalence of anencephaly was not determined." This a a mystery yet to be unraveled, and the lives of babies are at stake.

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