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Thu, 11 Feb 2016
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Earth Changes


Poor distribution of rainfall results in floods and droughts in Southern Africa

Drought and floods in southern Africa, February 2016.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has warned that poor distribution of rainfall in southern Africa is leading to severe drought in some areas and flooding risks in other areas.

In Madagascar, 700,000 people are thought to be affected by the drought in the south, whereas in the north 30,000 people have been affected by heavy rain that has brought a high risk of flooding and landslides.

In Mozambique, over 40% of this season's crops in the south have been lost to drought. In the north, storms and heavy rains have left 45 dead and destroyed over 1,000 homes since the start of the rainy season in October 2015.


35 brown pelicans found dead on Grand Isle, Louisiana

© Times-Picayune
The brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird
As many as 35 brown pelicans have been found dead on Grand Isle in the past two weeks, prompting an investigation by scientists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. They've dismissed suspicions that the birds were shot but have yet to determine the cause of death.

The dead pelicans were first reported to the Grand Isle Police Department, which asked state officials to investigate. "In the wintertime, we always get some calls about dead pelicans, but this seems to be an extraordinary amount," said Cheryl McCormack, secretary to Police Chief Euris DuBois. "We're alarmed about the number of them."

The brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird, was removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened species in 2009, but it is still protected under federal law. The birds had largely vanished from Louisiana's coast by the mid-1960s, after exposure to the pesticide DDT resulted in too-fragile eggshells.

More than 1,200 pelicans were imported from Florida in 1968. But the time of delisting, there were more than 12,000 breeding pairs in Texas and Louisiana.

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Huge sinkhole swallows bus with 60 passengers near San Pedro, Paraguay

© Oviedopress.com
A bus transporting 60 people was swallowed by a giant sinkhole near San Pedro, Paraguay.

Intense rainfall is responsible for the collapse of the road on January 31, 2016. Luckily, nobody has been injured.

© Oviedopress.com

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Gaping sinkhole appears in Cornwall, UK

© Newsflare/Ocean-Image
The edge of the sinkhole
Footage shows a sinkhole which has appeared in the ground after an old mine shaft caved in near the Botallack Mine in St Just, Cornwall.

According to the filmer, "the hole appeared last month and appears to be widening".

Botallack Mine features as a filming location in popular BBC drama Poldark.

According to the person who filmed the sinkhole, the collapse of an old mineshaft left a gaping hole in a clifftop field.

Cornwall was once rich from the trade in tin, and the area is now dotted by hundreds of old mine stacks, engine houses and unmapped mineshafts.


Update: Taiwan earthquake kills 23, more than 130 trapped under collapsed building rubble

© Wally Santana/AP
Rescuers search for dozens missing in the collapsed apartment building in Tainan on Sunday
At least 23 have died in the quake in Tainan as the city's mayor admitted it would be 'very difficult' to reach 100 still trapped deep under a collapsed building

Rescuers in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan were fighting against the clock on Sunday to save more than 100 people still trapped beneath rubble of an apartment block 24 hours after a strong earthquake shook the island.

A 20-year-old man was pulled alive from of the wreckage on Sunday but the city's mayor admitted that emergency teams face a "very difficult" challenge to rescue dozens of other people who remain trapped.

At least 23 people were killed when the 6.4-magnitude quake struck early on Saturday morning, many of them in a collapsed 16-storey apartment complex which contained almost 100 homes packed with families gathering for the Chinese new year.

"Of the 132 people desperately waiting for rescue, 103 people are buried very deep, there's no way to get to them direct, it's very difficult," said Tainan mayor William Lai on Sunday.

Comment: See also:


5 killed as huge Austrian avalanche buries 17

© ZOOM.TIROL/Associated Press
Mountain rescue service personnel search for Czech skiers who were trapped in an avalanche in a valley of the Tyrolian municipality of Wattenberg, Austria, on Saturday. Five people were killed.
Five Czech skiers were killed in a huge avalanche that swept away their group of 17 in the Austrian skiing region of Tyrol on Saturday, police said.

The avalanche, which the regional TV station ORF Tirol said was 2 km (1.25 miles) wide and 5 m (16 feet) deep, came down shortly after noon at the Wattener Lizum region, about 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Innsbruck.

Two people were injured but out of acute danger, while 10 others survived unharmed, police said.

The experienced Czech skiers were taking part in a so-called "freeride camp" and had been repeatedly warned about the danger by locals, according to ORF.

The entire skiing region had been on a 'level three' avalanche alert, out of a maximum five, and several avalanches were also reported elsewhere.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Kevin Liffey)


Pacifica, California residents on edge as 2nd sinkhole opens along seawall

A 2nd sinkhole on develops on Pacifica's seawall
Pacifica residents are feeling on edge Friday morning now that a second sinkhole opened up along the seawall.

They say the huge waves that pounded them Thursday night and Friday morning aren't very comforting. The Pacifica seawall is taking a beating this winter, with El Nino giving the waves here an intensity that surprises even long-time residents.

"In the eight to nine years we have been here, these are some of the largest waves we have seen break over the seawall," resident Rex Roggasch said. The steady barrage of waves is taking a toll. The second sinkhole in three weeks broke open Thursday on the seawall, right outside Terri Jackson's apartment.

She's dealing with her own wave-created problems. Her carefully landscaped yard was wiped out by waves. "We enjoyed many a fire pit night out there, but now unfortunately it is reduced to sand and broken pieces of lumber," Jackson said. The city of Pacifica has asked the state for some emergency money but on Monday will also ask the city council for some emergency funds as well.

Comment: Note that the city of Pacifica (just south of San Francisco, below Daly City) is in the San Andreas fault line.

Drone footage of the first sinkhole is below:

See also:

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Plant shop faces massive sinkhole again in Anderson Township, Ohio

© T.J. Parker
Sinkhole formed feet from an Anderson Twsp
In a horrible episode of déjà vu for an Anderson Township plant shop, a massive sinkhole opened Wednesday after heavy rains deluged the Tri-State.

Plants by Wolfangel owner Barb Henry reported on Facebook Thursday that the hole was quickly fenced off.

"The unknown of an event like this is scary," Henry told WCPO Thursday. "Just standing there yesterday watching the earth crumble in, the sounds of it, the smell of it, it's all familiar and it doesn't bring back good memories."

Plants by Wolfangel was shut down for nearly two years after sinkholes in April and June 2011 swallowed the parking lot and threatened to cut the property in half. The store reportedly lost merchandise into the hole that was never found.


Dead whale found on beach in Odisha, India

© Express
The carcass of the whale was found at Chinchira beach, an unmanned island under Rajnagar block of Kendrapara district on Saturday after which local fishermen thronged to see it.
Two days after a 33-feet long Sperm whale beached on coastline of Ganjam district in Odisha, a 66-feet long whale washed ashore on an unmanned island of Kendrapara district in the state.

Though it is not clear to which species the whale belongs, Rajnagar divisional forest officer Bimal Acharya said the 66-feet-long animal bore no injury marks. It may have been a normal death, he said. Whales are Schedule-I animals.

The carcass of the whale was found at Chinchira beach, an unmanned island under Rajnagar block of Kendrapara district on Saturday after which local fishermen thronged to see it.

Two days ago the 33-foot sperm whale, which washed up on the Rushikulya beach of Ganjam district, its carcass bore injury marks. Experts said the whale might have died after being hit by fishing trawlers. The district officials later got a crane to lift the carcass and bury it.

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Massive sinkhole swallows car with family in Trujillo, Peru

© SOL tv
Sinking feeling: A young family had to be rescued after their car was swallowed up by an enormous sinkhole
A young family had to be saved after a gigantic sinkhole opened up beneath them and swallowed the car they were sitting in.

Video footage of the rescue shows the car lying almost vertically in the chasm, as passersby help a man and woman climb out of the driver's side door.

Three people, Edgar Orlando Bartolo Silva, 34, Marisol Mercedes Gutierrez Siccha. 31 and their two-year-old daughter escaped unhurt, Sol TV reported.

They were taken to hospital as a precaution.