6 May US tornado outbreak

Several tornadoes were witnessed across the southern USstates including Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas on Wednesday 6th May. More than 50 preliminary tornadoes have been reported including 9 in Kansas.


Oklahoma was the worse affected after a large tornado destroyed mobile houses, caused damage to cars, infrastructure including power lines and uprooted trees. Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City was evacuated twice. The intensity of the tornado has not been confirmed yet.


One fatality was reported as a result of flooding and 12 were injured in Oklahoma. 10 homes were destroyed in Amber and 25 in Bridge Creek in Oklahoma. An estimated 15 homes were also damaged near Grand Island in Nebraska and Hardy and Ruskin near the Kansas border.


Floods caused by the torrential rainfall led to a flash flood warning emergency in Oklahomaf or the first time in its history. 7.1 inches of rain was recorded in Oklahoma   City. Flash flood warnings were also issued for south eastern Nebraska.


The current storms and tornado outbreak continues. Several watches and warnings continue to be issued for severe storms, floods and tornadoes over the next few days.

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Extensive damage caused by a tornado and storms in Germany

On Tuesday 5th May an F3 tornado caused extensive damage in the town of Bützow located near Rostock in northern Germany.

Widespread destruction was reported including overturned and damaged cars, uprooted trees and structural damage to buildings. The streets were covered by debris from trees and roof tiles and part of a hospital had to be evacuated due to roof damage. Those affected by the tornado sheltered in two gyms.

In other parts of the country extensive damage was caused by storms including damaging windspeeds and hail. One man was killed in the city of Hamburg after debris hit his car. Several others have also been injured. In Geilenkirchen, north of Aachen, wind speeds up to 119 km/h (74 mph) were recorded.

The damage is said to cost millions of Euros.

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Dar es Salaam Floods kill 2

Floods caused by torrential rain on 6 May have killed 2 people and left hundreds homeless inDar es Salaam,Tanzania. Fatalities include a 2 year old child and an elderly man.


Extensive damage has been caused to the infrastructure in the city including roads and bridges. Several residents tapped in the floods had to be saved by emergency services. Numerous homes have also been inundated, forcing residents to seek shelter elsewhere.


The situation is likely to worsen as further rainfall is forecast over the next few days. Police have been advising vulnerable residents at risk to evacuate their homes.


Floods have also killed 2 inZanzibarover the last week after floods were caused by torrential rainfall.

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Nepal Earthquake kills over 7000

On 25th April 06:11 (UTC) a shallow (15 km) magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck 34 km (21 miles) ESE of Lamjung in Nepal causing devastation. The earthquake was felt as far away as southern India including Karnataka and Kerala, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan and south western China including Tibet.

The earthquake was generated by a convergent/diffuse plate boundary where two continental plates (Indian and Eurasian) are colliding to form the Himalayas mountain range. The Indian plate boundary is moving northward and being subducted by the Eurasian plate at a rate of 40-50mm/year. The earthquake was a result of a thrust fault between these two plates and the fault area is an estimated ~120×80 km.

This region is one of the most seismically active regions in the world and experiences numerous earthquakes including a magnitude 8 in 1934 which resulted in 10,600 fatalities.

Satellite images acquired by ESA before and after the earthquake have shown land displacement. According to the data Mount Everest shrank by about an inch and land around Kathmandu was lifted 1 metre.

Hundreds of aftershocks have occurred varying in size after the main earthquake including a magnitude 6.6 located 49km (30 miles) east of Lamjung on 25th April at 6:45 (UTC) and a magnitude 6.7 located 19km (12 miles) SSE of Kodari on 26th April at 07:09 (UTC).

A total 7250 people have been confirmed dead on 3rd May and the number of fatalities keeps rising everyday. The majority of deaths have occurred in Nepal and a further 100 people have been killed in India (78), China/Tibet (25) and Bangladesh (4). In Nepal the worse affected district is Sindhupalchok where 3,360 fatalities have been confirmed. 14,021 people have also been injured including 200 in Bangladesh, 383 in China and 288 in India.

The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest which claimed 19 lives at the base camp. Several climbers had to be rescued by helicopters. It has not been confirmed whether the route will reopen or remain closed for climbers since extensive damage has been caused. Another avalanche triggered by the earthquake destroyed the entire village of Langtang leaving 250 people missing.

The earthquake has also triggered several landslides. Landslides have not only damaged buildings and infrastructure but have also caused temporary dams in rivers which could cause floods downstream when they fail. Glacial lakes may also pose a risk due to the effects of the earthquakes and landslides which could have weakened them leading to sudden draining in the future.  Further concerns are growing regarding potential fatal landslides which could be triggered during the monsoon next month.

The capital Kathmandu located 77 km (48 miles) from the earthquakes epicentre has been severely impacted. Apart from damage to buildings and infrastructure, Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site has been destroyed along with numerous temples built decades and centuries ago. Dharahara tower built in 1832 has also been destroyed and caused the death of an estimated 180 people.

Numerous villages in the surrounding remote areas have suffered catastrophic devastation; some have been entirely lost by the event.

According to officials 160,786 buildings have collapsed and 143,642 have been damaged. This figure may rise and be confirmed as further damage assessments are carried out over the next few weeks. The Government is projecting that the number of destroyed buildings could total 500,000.

Some reports suggest ¾ of buildings in the country have been left unsafe. In Gorkha and Sindupalchowk, the worse affected districts, estimates suggest 90% of houses have been destroyed and in Dhading, Dolakha, Rasuwa and Nuwakot districts more than 80% of houses have been destroyed. Buildings have also been damaged or destroyed in neighbouring countries such asBiharand Odisha inIndia. According to the Government 1383 schools have also been destroyed or damaged in the 26 districts.

Several villages have not been accessed yet due to landslides, damaged and destroyed infrastructure and lack of communication. It is likely that the number of fatalities and damaged buildings will increase over the next few days as the true scale of the disaster becomes clear.

Search and rescue efforts are now beginning to slow down as the likelihood of finding survivors is very low. Many have been pulled out alive from the rubble days after the earthquake. On 3rd May a 101 year old man was found alive 7 days after the earthquake. Current concerns have now shifted from search and rescue to relief including the provision of aid to the victims.

Thousands are still in need of essentials such as shelter, food and water. Many isolated villages in the mountains have yet to receive any aid. Relief efforts have been further hampered by rain, continuing aftershocks and landslides, damaged and destroyed infrastructure including roads, power outages and lack of communication and coordination. A ban on large planes flying to the airport has posed a challenge for agencies trying to fly aid into the country. Concerns are also growing over the approaching monsoon season which could worsen the conditions.

The United Nations and its Partner organisation have stated in their report released on 3rd May that $415 million is needed for vital humanitarian relief, 3 million people are in need of food aid and 24,000 people are currently living in temporary shelters. An estimated 28 million people have been affected by the earthquake according to the UN.

Aerial images released have shown the shocking destruction caused by the earthquake in Nepal. According to reports the earthquake has caused over £3.3 billion worth of damage and over £6.5 billion will be required for reconstruction. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal will require assistance to deal with the aftermath and economic cost of the disaster.

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Calbuco Erupts

Calbuco, located in southern Chile erupted without warning on 22 April 2015 leading to the evacuation of thousands of people. The volcano has a summit of 2003m (elevation: 6570ft) and is one of the most active volcano in the region.

Two confirmed VEI 5 eruptions have taken place in the past, dated 8460 (+/-155) and 6760 (+/-825) and six VEI 4 eruptions have also taken place. The last eruption was a VEI 2 on 26 August 1972.

On 22 April an hour before the first eruption volcano-seismic activity was detected, of which the largest occurred at 17:35. At 18:04 Calbuco erupted spectacularly sending a sub-Plinian ash column 15 km into the atmosphere. The ash column travelled north, northwest and east from Calbuco. The eruption lasted 90 minutes and authorities raised the Alert Level to Red and placed a 20 km exclusion zone around the volcano.

On 23 April at 01:00 a second larger eruption took place, generating a sub-Plinian ash column over 15 km into the atmosphere. The eruption lasted six hours and the ash column travelled north and east from Calbuco. According to the Global Volcanism Program, six vents on west, southwest, and south of the old lava dome were the source of the ash emissions.

SERNAGEOMIN estimated 210 million cubic metres (7420 million cubic feet) of ash has been emitted during the eruptions. An estimated 0.3-0.4Tg of sulphur dioxide emissions was also detected 21 km into the atmosphere on 28 April.

Lava bombs, including incandescent tephra were ejected within a distance of 5 km during the eruptions and pyroclastic density currents generated by the eruption travelled a distance of 7 km. Lahars travelled a distance of 15 km.

A total of 6514 people in the town of Puerto Montt and regions of Lago Chapo, Chamiza and Correntosowithin the 20 km exclusion zone were evacuated and are currently living in temporary shelters. Fortunately no fatalities or injuries have been reported.

Cities and towns as far away as 70 miles, including those in Argentina located north east of Calbuco have experienced ash falls. Buildings, rivers, farms, infrastructure including roads have all been covered by tephra. Roofs of a few buildings in the vicinity of the volcano have collapsed due to the weight of tephra.

Animals have also suffered due to the eruption and the fishing industry has faced substantial losses. The eruption also caused disruption to international flights across cities and led to the cancellation or delay.

After the two large eruptions, the Alert Level remained Red due to the emission of smaller ash columns reaching heights of less than 2 km and volcano-seismicity. Although a few residents were allowed in and out to collect personal belongings the exclusion zone remains. Lahars continue to pose a risk and residents are strongly advised to stay away from the vulnerable exclusion zone in particular 200 m around the volcano.

On 30 April at 13:09 Calbuco has begun to erupt for the third time and is currently continuing to erupt. The current eruption is less powerful than the other two and the ash column has erupted less than 5 km into the atmosphere. Further updates on the eruption will be posted when information becomes available.

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Cyclone Pam


Widespread devastation has been caused by cyclone Pam after it struck Vanuatuon 13thMarch.


Official figures from OCHA claim that there are now 11 confirmed fatalities. The death toll figures have varied from 16 to 24 but revised to 11 on 22ndMarch. According to reports fatalities occurred on theisland ofTafea,Efate and Tanna.


166,600 people have also been affected on the nations 22 islands, 3392 are currently living in 30 evacuation centres set up and 65,000 are in need of temporary shelter.


Infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and power and communication lines have been damaged or destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to reach the other islands. Officials claim that 20% to 90% of homes, schools, clinics and churches have been destroyed. Some villages have witnessed 100% destruction. In the provinces of Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea, 14,000 homes are believed to have been destroyed or damaged by Pam. The islands of Nanumaga, Nanumea, Nui, Tanna and Vaitupu are the worst affected.


Crops have also suffered damage or have been destroyed and fishing fleets and livestock have been killed. Water and sanitation infrastructure have also been damaged or destroyed raising concerns of access to safe drinking water and the spread of diseases.


The number of fatalities is unfortunately likely to increase as the isolated islands are reached over the next few days. The true scale of the devastation will also become clearer when an assessment is carried out across the islands.


A state of emergency has been declared by officials who believe this could be the worse disaster to be witnessed in the southern Pacific. Relief effort is currently taking place with aid being provided to the victims. Shortage of food and drinking water has been of concern over the last few days.


Cyclone Pam also caused damage to other islands includingSolomonIslands,TuvaluandKiribati. Flash floods caused by heavy rainfall and storm surge affected theislandofTuvalucausing significant damage to infrastructure and agriculture. A state of emergency has also been declared on this island nation.New   Caledonia,Fijiand NewZealandwere also in the path of cyclone Pam. 30,000 people are believed to have been affected on these islands.


Cyclone Pam formed on 6th March, gradually intensifying to a tropical depression on 8th March and gaining cyclone status on 9thMarch. On 10th March Pam further intensified into a Category 3 cyclone and on 12th March it became an intense Category 5 storm with maximum wind speed of 270 km/h (165mph) and lowest recorded pressure of 896 mbar. Cyclone Pam remained a Category 5 cyclone for 36 hours and struck Vanuatu as a Category 5 storm. Pam weakened to a Category 4 on 15thMarch and further weakened to an extratropical storm on 16th March.


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Storms in Tanzania kill 47

47 people have been killed after storms bringing heavy rainfall, high wind speeds and hail struck the villages of Mwakata, Magung’unhwa and Nhumbi in Msalala district on 3 March 2015. 5000 people have been affected, 3500 have been made homeless and 634 homes have been damaged or destroyed. 500 people were offered temporary shelter in two schools in the vicinity.

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Fogo eruption update

The eruption at Fogo ended on 8 February 2015 according to The Observatório Vulcanológico de Cabo Verde. In early January the activity started decreasing. The eruption which began on 23 November 2014 caused devastation to villages in the vicinity of the volcano. 95% of the village of Portelaand  and 70% of Bangaeira were destroyed leaving an estimated 1500 people from these two villages homeless.


Numerous infrastructure and homes were also buried and destroyed by the lava flows. Fortunately no casualties were reported due to early evacuations.


According to the Global Volcanism Program both sulphur dioxide emissions and temperatures of fumaroles has decreased significantly.

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Turrialba Eruption

Turrialba volcano located in Costa Rica erupted on 8th March forcing closure of Juan Santamaría International Airport and Tobias Bolaños airport along with ten schools in San José located 30 miles from the volcano. According to reports the eruption on 12th March which led to the closure of the airports delayed 111 flights and over 7,000 passengers.


Roads in the vicinity of the volcano were also closed due to the eruption. Authorities began to evacuate those living within one mile of the volcano after the eruption covered surrounding areas with ash. According to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica, ash covered areas over 20 miles (40 km) from Turrialba volcano.


The eruption was phreatic in nature and became more intense involving both gas and ash. On 11th March moderate ash columns took place followed by the most significant eruption since 1996 on 12th March. The eruptions on 12th March lasted six and 23 minutes erupting ash plumes 1 km (3,200 feet) into the atmosphere. The first eruption on the day began at 11:00 am, followed by the larger one at 14:12 pm.

The airports reopened on 13th March after activity decreased in intensity.

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Villarrica eruption

Villarrica, a stratovolcano located in southern Chile erupted spectacularly on 3rd March causing authorities to evacuate over 3600 people from the vicinity of the volcano.

The volcano, measuring 2847 metres  is one the country’s  most active volcano with numerous documented eruptions of which the majority have been a VEI 1 or VEI 2. Villarrica’s most violent eruptions according to radicarbon dating took place  in 1810 (+/- 200) measuring a VEI 5 and in 0…670 BCE measuring a VEI 4.


According to the Global Volcanism Program, Villarrica showed signs of activity in early December last year; however the activity was minimal and only began to intensify in February 2015. In early February the volcano experienced an increase in seismicity, sulphur dioxide emissions, crater incandescence and lava lake temperature. Strombolian eruptions took place during early to mid February emitting ash plumes and ejecting tephra (including lava bombs measuring 5 metres in diameter) several metres high.


From 28th February to 2nd March the volcano showed signs of greater increase in activity including significant seismic activity, further strombolian activity, ejection of tephra and an increase in the level of the lava lake.  On 3rd March at approximately 03:00 am after an increase in seismic levels the most significant eruption took place. A lava fountain was produced reaching heights of 1.5 km, tephra was ejected several metres around the volcano and lava flows travelled down the volcano. An ash plume was also produced, reaching a height of up to 8 km and travelled 400 km towards the east.


The Alert Level was raised to Red from Orange and a 10 km exclusion was placed as a result of the increased intensity of the eruption. Residents within this zone including those from the towns of Pucon and Conaripe were evacuated as a precautionary measure but returned when the intensity of the eruption decreased later that evening.


Due to a decline in activity on 5th March, the exclusion zone was reduced to 5 km and the Alert Level was lowered to Orange. A further decline in activity continued at the volcano, including decrease in seismicity and the absence of an active lava lake on 6th March and subsidence of material in the crater and decrease in gas levels on 9th March. The Alert Level was lowered to Yellow on 10th March as a result; however a 3 km exclusion zone remains due to fear of avalanches on the volcano.

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