Earthquake strikes California

An earthquake measuring 6.0 struck Northern California on 24 August at 3:20 local time. The earthquake had a depth of 10.7 km (6.6 miles) and was located 6 km (4 miles) NW of American Canyon and 9 km (6 miles) SSW of Napa. Several smaller afershocks have followed the main event. It is the largest earthquake to hit Bay Area since the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

In Napa, 89 people have been injured, of which 3 are serious. Fortunetly no deaths have been reported so far. 69,000 people have also been left without power. The earthquake has caused significant damage in Napa and American Canyon. Bridges and roads have been damaged including a bridge in American Canyon which has been closed due to the damage sustained.

Several historical buildings in Napa have been severaly damaged, which includes the City Hall and two commercial buildings. Fires caused by the earthquakes destroyed four mobile homes. According to reports there were approximatley 50 gas main breaks and 60 leaks from damaged water mains.

The earthquake was caused by the San Andreas fault system which is where the Pacific is moving northwest in relation to the North American plate. This movement causes a right lateral slip across the faults. According to the USGS the location of the earthquake was near the West Napa Fault which is located between two major strike slip fault systems; the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system on the west and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system on the east.

As assessments are carried out, the extent and severity of the damage will become clear over the next few hours or days.

A state of emergency has been declared by the California Governer Jerry Brown.

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Earthquake kills 589 in China

589 people have been killed and over 2833 have been injured in China after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake with a depth of 10 km (6.1 miles) struck 11km (7miles) northwest of Wenping in Yunnan Province on 3 August 2014. The earthquake was also felt in Kunming, Chongqing, Leshan and Chengdu. Numerous aftershocks have followed the earthquake.

According to reports 9 people are still missing, more than 1 million people have been affected, 229,700 have been left homeless and 230,000 have been evacuated from the affected areas due to severe structural damage to buildings and infrastructure. Fatalities have occurred in Ludian, Qiaojia, Huize and Zhaotong. Further remote villages devastated by the earthquake have just been reached; therefore the death toll is likely to increase.

The earthquake has caused devastation. More than 80,000 houses have collapsed and a further 124,000 have suffered severe damage. According to Earthquake-Report; 25,500 houses have collapsed in Yunnan, 39,200 have been severely damaged and a further 151,200 houses have also suffered damage. InSichuan 23 houses have collapsed and a further 2579 have been damaged. InGuizhou 12 houses have collapsed and 2154 have been damaged. These figures are likely to rise since some remote villages have not been reached or are just being reached.

The poor infrastructure is making response to the disaster difficult. Several roads and bridges have been damaged during the earthquake. Access to remote areas is limited and destruction to the existing communication system has made it worse. Roads have been blocked due to landslides and access to some towns and villages such as Longquan Village in Ludian County have been made impossible. The city ofZhaotonghas also suffered from damage to infrastructure and structural building damage. Power outages have also been reported.

Search and rescue efforts are still underway in hope of finding further survivors amongst the collapsed buildings and this will continue until Sunday 10 August. A woman was rescued from the rubble 67 hours after the earthquake on 6 August. The likelihood of finding further survivors after 72 hours decreases, therefore rescuers are working against the clock. The remoteness of some villages is greatly hindering the rescue effort.

In reponse to the disaster, the government has deployed over 18,000 rescuers in Yunnan which has included 5000 soldiers, police and firefighters. 33,000 tents, 10,000 quilts, 60,000 cotton coats, 10,000 folding beds, 10,000 sleeping bags, 5,000 sets of folding chairs and tables as well as 50 mobile toilets have also been dispatched to the areas affected by the earthquake. The Chinese governement has also allocated $97.3 million (600 million Yuan) to fund response and relief.

Concerns have also grown due to a rising barrier lake formed by a landslide blocking River Niulan near the border of Ludian and Qiaojia. Specialists have reported that the water level is rising at 16 cm per hour and will continue to rise. 4200 people downstream have been evacuated due to the increasing threat of flooding. According to Earthquake-Report, the lake has already flooded 370 homes. It is likely that further residents will need to be evacuated while the situation unfolds. Response teams are on site and currently dealing with the situation.

The cause of the earthquake was a shallow strike-slip fault within the Eurasian plate. This is a convergent plate boundary where the Eurasian plate and the Indian plate move towards eachother resulting in the formation of intraplate continental transform structures in the surrounding regions which includes the Xiaojiang fault system.

Estimates suggest that the earthquake has cost $6.4 billion (38.48 billion CNY). It will take months before life returns to normal in the affected regions. The death toll is also likely to increase over the next few days as more bodies of victims are pulled out of the rubble in remote areas.

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Earthquake kills 1 in South Africa

An earthquake measuring 5.3, with a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles) struck 6 km east of Orkney, South Africa at 12:22 local time. 1 person has been killed an 18 injured. The earthquake was felt as far away as Johannesburg, Mozambique and Botswana. A few buildings have been damaged at the epicentre.

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Wessington Springs Tornado

On Wednesday 18th June just before 8pm an EF2 tornado touched down in the small town of Wessington Springs. The town of 1000 people is located in central South Dakota. The tornado left a path of destruction with several homes and businesses being destroyed or damaged. 1 person was reported injured. 100 South Dakota National Guard soldiers and equipment were deployed by the Governor Dennis Daugaard in response.

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Pilger tornadoes

On 16th June 2014 a storm cloud produced 4 tornadoes, of which two were rare twin tornadoes a mile apart from each other. Although multiple tornadoes do occur, what made these rare was the fact that there was no dominant tornado and they were both strong EF4 tornadoes with winds of 200 mph. The tornadoes touched down in the small town of Pilger causing devastation. 2 people including a child and an elderly man were killed and 19 were left injured of which 16 were in critical condition. 75% of the building in Pilger destroyed or damaged. A local school also heavily damaged. The town was evacuated for the night.

The storm system also produced large hail, flash floods and noncyclonic damaging winds.

Incredible videos and photos of the tornadoes were caught.

The town is still suffering from the aftermath of the devastation and recovery and damage assessments are currently underway.

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Landslides kill thousands in Afghanistan

Heavy rainfall triggered two landslides on Friday 2nd May at 11am in the Badakhshan province of Afganistan. 4000 people have been displaced and fatalities vary from 350 to 2700. So far 350 bodies have been recovered but several more are missing and are feared to be burried under 300 feet of mud and rock. 1000 homes have been affected of which 370 have been entirely burried by the landslide.

Hundreds of rescue workers tried to search for survivors on Friday and Saturday, but their effort was made impossible by the lack of tools and machinery to dig through the thick material.

Search and rescue efforts have now been called off as officials nolonger have hope of finding victims alive and attention has been turned to the 4000 displaced.

Aid has started to arrive for those affected and the location of the landslide will be turned into a mass grave.

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Devastation in Southern US States after tornadoes kill 18 people

18 people have been killed and several injured by tornadoes that struck the Southern and Central US States on Sunday 27th April. 16 of the fatalities occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas and one in Quapaw, north-east of Oklahoma.

The intense storm system caused numerous tornado outbreaks, flash floods and hail storms as it travelled across the region. More than 8 tornadoes, EF2 or above in size were reported. Tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri.

The devastation caused by the latest outbreaks has lead to a state of emergency being declared throughout the affected States. The towns of Mayflower and Vilonia in Faulkner County have been the worse of the affected towns, taking a direct hit with widespread devastation left behind. According to reports, the tornado that touched down in Arkansas 16km west of Little Rock left a 65km path of destruction.

The damage caused by the events has been devastating and widespread. Hundreds of homes, businesses, public buildings, schools and infrastructure have been completely destroyed or been significantly damaged, cars and trailers were crushed by trees and power lines and debris were carried by the tornadoes and thrown meters away from the origin. In Baxter Springs, approximately 70 homes and 25 businesses have been destroyed.

As the reality of the damage and destruction caused came into light, officials warned that the number of death toll was expected to rise incredibly as search and rescue attempts continued in the affected States. Hundreds have been injured and left homeless. Astonishing and incredible witness accounts from the survivors of the tornadoes were told.

Tornadoes are formed when the right conditions exist, in this instance; a powerful jet stream was present, along with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and a cold front from the South. The Southern States are also referred to as the tornado alley, where conditions are perfect for the formation of these deadly natural phenomena. The conditions include; a powerful jet stream, moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and a cold front from the South.

The situation is currently ongoing, further tornadoes have been reported and watches and warnings are in place. Parts of Mississippi, Alabama have been put on HIGH RISK. A tornado is currently heading towards Yazoo City and Tupelo, residents have been advised to take cover immediately.

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Tanzania Floods claim a further 10 lives

Severe floods in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania have claimed 10 lives on Sunday 13th April. The country has experienced heavy rainfall over the past few days which have triggered floods, causing numerous parts of the country to become inundated including the commercial capital Dar es Salaam. Two fatalities have previously been reported and a further ten have been… reported on Sunday. According to the regional commissioner the death toll is likely to rise over the coming days.

The floods have destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of homes leaving thousands homeless, farms and crops have also been destroyed and numerous livestock killed. Infrastructure such as roads, bridges and the drainage network have also been badly damaged or swept away. Major roads linking to the rest of the country have been cut off. The floods also caused the derailment of a train in the Dodoma Region in previous weeks which claimed the lives of 2 people.

According to reports, of the 10 victims 5 were children who died in different parts of Dar es Salaam. Rescue teams have been set up to respond in the worse hit areas.

Tanzania’s Meteorological Agency has forecast further heavy rain over the next few days. This has caused residents in Dar es Salaam to panic. The eastern part of the Country has received above average rainfall over the past few weeks.

It is likely that further heavy rainfall will worsen the situation over the next few days.

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Update on Cyclone Ita

Surveys of the damage caused by Cyclone Ita are taking place in northern Queensland. No fatalities or injuries have been reported. Ita left communities without power, caused damage to a few buildings, uprooted trees and destroyed crop plantations along the way, however no major damage has been reported and the country appears to have had a lucky escape. Heavy rainfall has a…lso caused floods which have inundated roads but not homes have been flooded.

According to reports the damage is estimated to have cost approximately $1 million.

Ita has now been downgraded to a category 1 cyclone with winds of up to 100km/h and is currently making its way south and is predicted to eventually make its way offshore by Monday. Warnings are still in place and according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology between Bowen and St Lawrence; 100km/h wind speeds are likely and between Proserpine and Mackay and possibly Yeppoon and heavy rainfall up to 400mm and flooding is also a risk.

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Cyclone Ita

Tropical Cyclone Ita is a category 3 storm currently located over Queensland, Australia. The cyclone was downgraded from a strong category 5 to 3 and is the strongest storm to affect Australia since cyclone Yasi in 2011.

Ita formed on 1st April as a tropical depression and caused devastating floods on the Solomon Islands which left 23 dead and hundreds homeless. It gained its streng…th and intensified into a tropical cyclone on 5th April as it moved over the warm ocean. On the 10th it further intensified and became a category 5 but was eventually downgraded to a category 3 as it approached Australia on 11th April. Ita has made landfall in Queensland with wind speeds of 170km/h (105mph). According to the Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, Ita is forecast to head south-south-west overnight.

Destructive winds, intense rainfall and high storm surges causing coastal inundation and flooding is a significant risk that the residents are being warned about. Residents in the path of Ita have been warned to take precautionary measures in preparedness and evacuate into shelters set up where necessary. Warnings are currently in place for coastal areas from Cape Melville to Cardwell including Cooktown, Cape Melville, Port Douglas, Cairns and inland areas including Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe.

According to the Meteorology Burea, Ita is expected to weaken after passing areas inland of Cooktown.

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