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Earth News: Week Ending January 19, 2007

Earth News
Week of January 19, 2007
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Bird Flu Surge
The United Nations
World Health Organization
(WHO) warned that a
major resurgence of avian
influenza is in progress across Asia.
WHO spokesman Peter Cordingley
cautioned that bird flu is a cold
weather virus, and more cases are
likely to develop over the cold
months in the northern hemisphere.
“We expect a repeat of last year, when
the virus suddenly became very
active,” spreading to the Middle East,
Africa and Europe, Cordingley said.
The warnings came as Indonesia
reported its 60th confirmed death
from the virus, and fresh outbreaks of
bird flu in poultry were reported in
Japan and Vietnam. Meanwhile,
health officials in Indonesia
announced that 20 percent of stray
cats surveyed across the country
carry the deadly H5N1 strain of avian
influenza.

Australian Wildfires
Searing midsummer heat
across southeastern Australia
sparked more wildfires
that destroyed eight
homes in the states of Victoria and
New South Wales. Residents in Melbourne
and other blacked-out cities
were left to swelter as utility crews
worked to repair a break in a main
power transmission line brought
down by fire.

Winter’s Worst
More than 100 people perished
in severe wintry
conditions that spread
across a wide area from
southern Canada to the northern
deserts of Mexico. Ice and snow shut
down airports and made roads
impassable, stranding thousands of
travelers. Severe crop damage was
reported at some farms and orchards
in usually temperate California.

Flood Starvation
Scientists investigating
the recent deaths of thousands
of lesser flamingos
at Kenya’s Lake Bogoria
discovered the birds probably perished
due to a lack of food in the wake
of East Africa’s devastating floods.
A team sponsored by the Earthwatch
research organization found that
many of the dead birds weighed only
63 percent of their normal body mass,
suggesting malnutrition. Team leader
David Harper, of the University of
Leicester, believes torrential rainfall
over the region during the past few
months has depleted the birds’ normal
food source of spirulina — a
blue-green bacteria that floats on the
surface of Lake Bogoria and other
lakes across Kenya’s Rift Valley.

Comoros Rumblings
Volcanic activity is seen inside t
he Karthala volcano in 2006.

Days of strong tremors at
one of the world’s largest
active volcanoes prompted
officials in the Comoros
Islands to draw up evacuation plans
should the mountain erupt. The country’s
security chief, Oukacha Jaffar,
told reporters that as many as 30,000
people could be forced from their
homes on the main island of Grande
Comore if the 7,746-foot Mount
Karthala becomes violently active.
Earthquakes
Tens of thousands of
Japanese were ordered to
higher ground after a
magnitude 8.2 temblor in
the Kuril Islands threatened to send a
tsunami across the Pacific. Tsunami
watches were also issued for Guam,
Taiwan, the Philippines and Hawaii
before it became clear that only a
small wave had been generated.
• Earth movements were also felt
in eastern Japan, Taiwan, northwestern
Turkey, Romania, New Zealand
and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ganges Flush
Officials in India ordered
dams in the upper reaches
of the Ganges to release
large quantities of water
to dilute pollution that had made the
river so contaminated that the Hindu
faithful were advised not to bathe in
it during a religious festival. Sadhus,
or Indian holy men, then declared the
river safe for the up to 5 million people
who later took a ceremonial
plunge into the sacred waterway. It
was the first of four auspicious days
during the 45-day Ardh Kumbh festival,
when Hindus believe bathing in
the river will wash away their sins and
help them attain salvation from the
cycle of birth and rebirth.

Highway Robbery
A brazen hijacking, committed
by a herd of elephants
on a road through
an eastern Thailand
wildlife reserve, has officials considering
the closure of the highway, at
least at night. Yoo Senatham, chief of
the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary
in Chachoengsao province, said
that a herd of about 20 pachyderms
blocked the road and overturned
many of the 10 trucks that were forced
to stop. Loads of sugarcane and tapioca
spilled onto the roadway, where
the larger elephants and their young
gorged on the pilfered goods. “There
have been many accidents on this
road, leading to the deaths of thousands
of animals, but this was the first
highway robbery by elephants we’ve
recorded,” said Senatham. He
believes the elephants may have been
encouraged to hijack the tasty cargo
by the many passers-by who throw
sugarcane and tapioca to them.


Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
Week Ending January 19, 2007
Distributed by: UPS
© 2007- Earth Frenzy Radio

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