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EARTH NEWS: WEEK ENDING MARCH 24, 2006

Tropical Cyclones
The most powerful
cyclone to strike Australia
in 30 years unleashed
widespread damage to
structures and crops across the northeastern
state of Queensland. Cyclone
Larry roared into the community of
Innisfail, a popular jumping-off point
for the Great Barrier Reef. Marine
biologists said the Category 5
cyclone’s powerful waves inflicted
severe damage to the reef, which
could take decades to heal.
• Cyclone Wati formed quickly
off the coast of Queensland as Larry
lost force inland. But the storm
gained only Category 1 strength and
passed well offshore.
• Cyclone Floyd churned the
Indian Ocean off Australia’s northwestern
coast.

Prairie Drought
Parts of the Canadian
Prairie grain belt have
been left so parched by a
dry winter they will need
regular rains during the next month
to allow for spring planting. Surveys
show soil moisture is below average
across much of Alberta and parts of
Saskatchewan, where winter precipitation
was spotty. Aston Chipanshi,
climate specialist for the federal
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration,
cautioned that farm water
supplies for livestock could also be
threatened in the western Prairies.

Dust Storm
Fierce winds across
Mongolia and interior
parts of China created a
huge cloud of dust that
blew as far away as the island of Taiwan.
Health officials on the island
warned the elderly, children and
those with respiratory problems to
stay indoors to avoid inhaling fine
dust particles in the air.

Serbian Slide Disaster
More than a thousand
people in central and
western Serbia were
evacuated from their
homes after heavy rain and melting
snow caused over a hundred landslides.
The country’s RTS television
network reported that dozens of
houses were destroyed or damaged
by the slides. The disaster has left
many villages without water or electricity,
and destroyed or damaged
houses and roads.

Eruptions
Mount Bulusan, the
Philippines’ most active
volcano produced an
explosion that sent a cloud
of ash soaring almost a mile into the
sky above Sorsogon province, 280
miles southeast of Manila. Officials
ordered all people living at the foot
of the volcano to stay out of a 2.5-
mile danger zone due to the threat of
additional explosions. Bulusan’s last
explosion was recorded in early 1995.
• A violent eruption of a volcano
in New Zealand’s remote Kermadec
island group left one researcher
feared dead and sent the remaining
five members of the team fleeing the
island. It was the first time the volcano
on Raoul Island had erupted
since 1964.

Earthquakes
A sharp tremor near
Algeria’s northeastern
coast killed four people
and injured 68 others
near the town of Laalam. Officials
said 38 homes collapsed during the
shaking.
• A moderate aftershock of last
October’s South Asia temblor spread
panic among residents in Indian-controlled
Kashmir. The latest shaking
jolted people out of their beds just
before midnight.
• Earth movements were also felt
in southwest Pakistan, eastern
Turkey, Serbia, northwest Sumatra,
northeast Japan, northwest Montana,
far northern Quebec and interior parts
of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Drought-Breaking Rains
A winter of regular rainfall
in Spain has
prompted the country’s
meteorological office to
say a second year of severe drought
is becoming less likely. “Broadly
speaking, it’s rained about twice as
much as last year,” said meteorologist
Antonio Mestre. The amount of
water held in the country’s lakes and
rivers is now only about 19 percent
below the average for the same time
during the last 10 years. Severe
drought and heat waves last summer
sparked a record number of wildfires
across the Iberian Peninsula and
caused widespread water shortages.

Deadly Feast
Brief periods of heavy
rain broke the scorching
drought in parts of Kenya,
but scores of starving wild
animals died after gorging on too
much vegetation, which had sprung
up due to the rain. Wildlife officials
in Hell’s Gate National Park in the
Rift Valley province said at least 100
animals — mostly gazelles, zebra and
buffaloes — had died due to overgrazing.
At least 40 people have perished
in northern Kenya during the
recent drought, and livestock are also
dying at an alarming rate. The U.N.
warns that at least 11 million people
across East Africa are in danger of
starvation due to the failure of seasonal
rains.

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Distributed by: Universal Press Syndicate
Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
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