Earth Changes


50 wildfires burn across Northeast Florida

Wildfires are consuming more than a square mile of forest as 50 fires burn throughout Northeast Florida, including a fire in Nocatee that came within 20 feet of homes, according to the Florida Forest Service.

Greg Dunn, senior forester, said three bulldozers plowed about two miles of fire lines in the Nocatee area to contain the 8-acre fire.

Storms soaked parts of Northeast Florida Sunday night, although it was a mixed bag for fire officials. While the rain was helpful, lightning bolts compounded the problem by igniting more fires.

Of the 50 fires burning 720 acres in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties, 37 of them have been started by lightning, according to the Forest Service.

Arrow Down

Huge sinkhole opens up on golf course in Lenexa, Kansas


Sinkhole opens on Lenexa golf course
A big sinkhole has opened up on a Lenexa golf course.

The sinkhole is on the left side of the fairway on the 13th hole at Canyon Farms Golf Course. Despite the change in the landscape, the course and the hole itself remain open.

"I believe it's par 4," said golfer Jerry Nelson. "But they have set the tee box way up front about 120 yards out."

Shortening the hole takes the sinkhole out of play.

A statement from the owners said a portion of the course is built over a nonoperating limestone mine. The statement said the majority of the mine is considered stable, according to various geotechnical studies.

Nelson and his partner said they took a good look at the sinkhole as they played the course.

Cloud Precipitation

Flooding in Costa Rica prompts evacuation of hundreds of people

© Red Cross
National Meteorological Institute forecasts say rains likely will increase starting Monday night, and emergency agencies are sending food and other supplies to people in the most affected cantons.

A total of 458 people were evacuated to six shelters in Costa Rica's Caribbean and Northern regions due to flooding caused by heavy rains beginning over the weekend, the National Emergency Commission (CNE) reported Monday evening.

Most of those affected are residents from the cantons of Sarapiquí in Heredia, Matina, Siquirres and Pococí in Limón, as well as Grecia and San Carlos in Alajuela. A total of 92 communities are reported to be affected to some degree by the heavy rains, according to the report.

CNE officials reported that the floods have affected five roads, blocking passage to at least 24 communities. Six bridges currently are closed, and several communities do not have access to drinking water because two aqueducts failed over the weekend.

Officials from the National Roadway Council and the Public Works and Transport Ministry on Monday afternoon reported that passage on Route 32, the main highway connecting San José with the province of Limón, is closed at the Blanco River bridge at kilometer 58.


Basking shark caught near Australia for the first time in 85 years


It took a crane to lite the shark out of the boat and another five hours to cut into small enough pieces to carry
The uncommon discovery of a peculiar-looking shark is the first sighting of the second largest living fish in Australian waters for 85 years.

James Owen and his crew accidentally caught the 6.3-metre basking shark in their trawler at Portland, west of Warrnambool, in Victoria on Sunday but instead of selling the sought-after Chinese delicacy, they decided to donate the rare three-tonne male fish to science.

Only smaller than the whale shark, the mammoth fish has an unusual pink/purple hue to its skin and a huge flat nose.

The last recording of this species being captured was in the 1930s by a skipper at Lakes Entrance in eastern Victoria.


Pakistan heat wave kills hundreds: Victims 'dying on the streets'

© B.K. Bangash / AP

Pakistanis cool themselves Tuesday under a broken water pipe in Islamabad as temperatures increase during Ramadan.
A heat wave raging through southern Pakistan has claimed more than 700 lives, officials said, with witnesses describing victims "dropping dead" on the streets.

Temperatures have exceeded 110 degrees in recent days, and thousands of people have been left to face the heat without electricity amid widespread power outages.

At Karachi's largest hospital, more than 150 people have been admitted for heatstroke since Monday, according to Ali Nawazish, the emergency room registrar at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center.

"Some patients have come to us with their families, some have been found by ambulances, and some families have come here looking for their loved ones who they fear are dead or affected," Nawazish said. "It's chaos."

Ramzan Chippa, who runs a volunteer ambulance service with a fleet of 300, told NBC News that all his vehicles are committed and that most of their relief activity is taking bodies to morgues.

"Most of the bodies we are recovering are people dying on the streets. They're just dropping dead," said Chippa. "Graveyards have filled up."

The army has joined the relief effort, setting up heatstroke relief camps in Karachi and five other cities in Sindh province. But relief systems are stretched across the city, and small, angry skirmishes have erupted in protest.

A deputy commissioner in the Korangi suburb of Karachi admitted that public relief services are stretched to their limits.

"People are screaming at us on our helpline to get help them, and when we do, they fight to get on the ambulance," he said.

More opposition parties, including the Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi movement, are blaming the federal government for the crisis, which they say has been compounded by massive power cuts all across Sindh province.

Dildar Shah lives in the Karachi suburb on Malir and has lost two neighbors to the extreme conditions. "This is like the Day of Judgment," he said. "It seems all of us will die in this heat together."


Fish-killing virus sweeps Europe

© Creative Commons
Red koi abound at the pond of a shopping area of downtown Shanghai.
Vienna - Carp edema virus affects fish like carp, causing lethargy and eventual death. The disease originated in Asia and has now been detected in Austria.

The disease is also sometimes called koi sleepy disease. It is an infectious disease of fish, where they gravitate to the bottom of a pond or a river and display little movement.

Physiologically, the eyes of the fish become sunken, the skin undergoes flaking and the gills become swollen.If the swelling of the gills progresses then the fish dies through lack of oxygen.

The fish affected are mainly carp and koi. Carp is a general term for oily, freshwater fish including the silver carp, common carp and black carp.

Koi are a specific type of ornamental carp, which come in a variety of colors including white, black, red, yellow, blue, and cream.

The type of virus and how it reacts is still a mystery to virologists. It is thought that the infectious virus is related to the small-pox family (although it is not hazardous to humans). The case in Austria has allowed scientists to begin exploring the disease in more detail, using the latest molecular biology methods bolstered by electron micrography.


Poachers slaughtering African elephants on an 'industrial scale': Study

© Getty Images
Elephants stroll through Namibia's Etosha Park
Investigators who collected DNA from the tusks of slain elephants and painstakingly looked for matches in the vast African continent have identified two large areas where the slaughter has been occurring on an industrial scale, according to a study published on Thursday.

The two areas are Tanzania in the east and a cross-border region encompassing several nations in the central-western part of Africa.

Samuel Wasser, an author of the study published in the journal Science, said he hopes the study will focus law enforcement efforts and increase international pressure on host countries to crack down on poaching, but he acknowledged the challenge.

"You're literally asking them to police themselves," Wasser said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. He suggested donor countries could demand more robust conservation efforts in exchange for development aid.

The big size of shipments of confiscated ivory from both regions - over half a ton - indicates the presence of transnational crime syndicates likely operating with corrupt authorities, said researchers who matched DNA from seized tusks to samples of elephant hair, tissue and dung from wildlife parks across Africa.


Plague of Astrakhan: Locust swarm blots out the sun in Russian region (VIDEO)

© Reuters / Victor Ruiz
Near-Biblical scenes are emerging from the Astrakhan region in southern Russia, which has been invaded by giant swarms of locusts. Local authorities have scrambled vehicles and aircraft to combat the infestation.

The voracious insects are migrating dozens of kilometers every day, consuming crops as they go. Parts of the region have been put on high emergency alert.

Locust swarms appear in the area nearly every year, finding fertile breeding grounds on abandoned farmlands. This year, dry weather has created a superabundance of the creatures. The swarms include locusts of different ages, some only able to crawl and hop, others already on the wing.

Local authorities are using airborne crop-sprayers to spread insecticide over the affected areas. Flying sometimes as low as five or seven meters, the Antonov An-2 plane has managed to treat some 5,000 hectares with chemicals - out of a total of 29,000 hectares affected.

Arrow Down

Sinkholes collapse roads in Susquehanna Valley, Pennsylvania


Weather may be to blame for two sinkholes that collapsed Susquehanna Valley roads over the weekend and a partial house collapse.
York County

A big sinkhole has shut down part of a road in Carroll Township.

It opened along South Fileys Road at Big Oak Road.

The sinkhole is about 10 yards long and 5 yards wide.

There is no word on when repairs could be made.


Elephants kill villager in SW China


Asian elephant
A villager was killed and his wife injured by wild Asian elephants while working in farmlands in southwest China's Yunnan Province, said local authorities on Monday.

Villagers found Zhao Si dead and his wife Ming Ba injured in their own croplands Sunday morning in Menghai County, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. The scene was chaotic with footprints of the wild animals.

The attack happened on Saturday. Ming Ba was buried in a collapsed shed in the croplands, which saved her from further attacks by the elephants. She was sent to a hospital for treatment.

The county forestry bureau has strengthened monitoring of the wild Asian elephants nearby.

There have been several attacks in Xishuangbanna, which is home to 250 to 300 wild elephants, in recent years. In 2012 and 2013, two women died in such attacks in the area.

Source: Xinhua News Agency