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Earth News: Week Ending November 24, 2006

African Flood Crisis
Torrential seasonal rains
continued to drench a
wide swath of East
Africa, worsening an
already acute flood crisis in Kenya,
Somalia and Ethiopia. Flooding has
forced thousands of Somali tribespeople
into neighboring Kenya,
which was already struggling to provide
aid to its own displaced residents.
Relief agencies were making
urgent appeals for donations to help
the approximately 1.8 million people
who have been affected by the floods.
Reports from southern Somalia tell of
people taking refuge in trees to escape
attacks from crocodiles lurking in the
floodwaters. The reptiles have killed
at least nine people so far. Hundreds
of villages are submerged in the country,
which has no central government
and is still suffering from food shortages
caused by a severe drought that
preceded the floods.

A strong temblor near the
Peru-Chile border caused
a motorcyclist to skid off
a road during the shaking,
which also damaged part of a major
highway. The epicenter of the quake
was near the Peruvian city of Tacna.
• Earth movements were also felt
in western Nicaragua, southwestern
Colorado, the Mozambique-Zimbabwe
border region, Serbia, northwest
Sumatra, central New Zealand,
southern Japan and the Kuril Islands.

Tropical Cyclones
An area of disturbed
weather south of the
Solomon Islands quickly
intensified into Cyclone
Yani. The storm was predicted to
move southward into the Coral Sea.
• Hurricane Sergio remained well
off the coast of western Mexico
before losing force.

Australian Wildfires
High winds and early summertime
heat in eastern
Australia fanned large
bushfires west of Sydney
in the Blue Mountains. One property
in the New South Wales town of
Molong was destroyed by the blazes,
which went within hundreds of yards
of homes along the Great Western
• Other blazes in the state of Victoria
killed several head of livestock
and sent a pall of smoke blowing over
parts of metropolitan Melbourne.

Vietnam Hail Disaster
Hailstorms and whirlwinds
killed 15 people
and caused at least $21
million in damage across
parts of northern Vietnam. The country’s
National Flood and Storm
Department said the storms
destroyed more than 8,000 houses
and sank 12 boats, including many
around the World Heritage Site and
popular tourist destination of Halong
Bay. Flash flooding accompanied the
storms in some areas.

The world’s smallest active
volcano spewed geysers of
mud in the central Philippines,
but the activity did
not pose any threat to residents of the
region. Taal Volcano is located about
45 miles south of Manila on an island
inside a lake called Taal Lake. A similar
eruption of mud began in November
1999 and lasted until the following
• Java’s Mount Merapi sent hot
clouds soaring nearly 2 miles above
central Indonesia in an eruption that
quickly subsided. The local government
warned people living on the volcano’s
slope to be on alert for more
hot clouds and possible floods of volcanic

Arctic Greening
A new U.S. government
report says that global
warming continues to
affect the Arctic, with the
trend causing a decrease in sea ice and
an increase in the number of shrubs
growing on the tundra. The new
“State of the Arctic” analysis,
released by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, also
warned that there has been a significant
warming of the tundra during the
past 30 years. The subsequent
increase in vegetation is beginning to
affect the migration of reindeer,
according to Vladimir E.
Romanovsky, a professor at the geophysical
institute of the University of
Alaska. The region’s glaciers are continuing
to shrink and river discharge
into the Arctic Ocean is rising,
Romanovsky added.

Lion Cub Poisoning
Animal conservation
groups expressed outrage
at the admission by
Ethiopia’s Lion Zoo that
the facility is poisoning lion cubs and
selling their carcasses to taxidermists.
Zoo spokesman Muhedin
Abdulaziz told the Associated Press
that six cubs have been killed and
stuffed in an effort to raise money for
the cash-strapped Addis Ababa facility.
Federal wildlife officials monitor
the poisoning, which Abdulaziz says
is painless. Only about 1,000
Ethiopian lions, which are smaller
than other lion species, are believed
to still live in the wild. James Isiche,
East Africa director of the International
Fund for Animal Welfare, said
the zoo should prevent the animals
from breeding if it can’t afford to care
for them.

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