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Mon, 16 Jan 2017
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House destroyed by explosion in Manchester, five people injured

© www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk
A house in Manchester has been almost entirely destroyed by an explosion, reportedly leaving five people injured.

The home in Blackley can be seen roofless and reduced to crumbling brickwork in videos and pictures on social media.


Question

What caused the loud, house-shaking boom heard across Greater Manchester?

© Darren Ogden
The picture claimed to show smoke near Buile Hill Park after the blast - but its veracity has not yet been confirmed.
It was heard across Salford, Trafford and south Manchester - and speculation is rife as to the cause

The cause of a mysterious loud bang heard across Greater Manchester remains unknown. Residents in Trafford , Salford , Urmston , Chorlton and Sale reported hearing the noise at about 11pm on Sunday evening.

An image shared shortly afterwards on social media claimed show a large plume of smoke coming from Buile Hill Park, in Salford, which is thought by some to be linked to the sound.

Greater Manchester Police and the fire service were called to the scene, but found nothing when they arrived. A GMP spokesman said: "We were called at about 11.15pm last night to the Seedley area of Salford, to reports of a loud bang. "We found nothing untoward to explain. We have gone along locally to make enquiries and not come across anything to explain it."

Greater Manchester Fire Service said they received two calls from members of the public in Salford regarding a loud bang. But following investigations, they could not find anything that would have been the source of the noise and advised callers it was 'nothing to worry about'.

The origin of the loud bang continues to baffle residents, with some claiming it felt like a gas explosion. One Twitter user wrote: "Any news about the huge explosion sound an hour ago near Davyhulme? It shook all the houses here, sounded like a gas explosion."

Ice Cube

Deadly ice storm threatens 44 million people as US Midwest freezes

© NBC News
In Oklahoma, a truck driver was killed in a crash on an ice-covered highway just before a 3.30am Saturday. The stretch of road was the scene of nearly a dozen other crashes.
A third wave of sleet and drizzle could hit parts of the central U.S. on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, with temperatures threatening to stay near or below freezing and add to the treacherous mix.

Ice buildups of one-quarter to slightly less than a half inch were expected from southeastern Kansas to central Missouri.

Becky Allmeroth, a state maintenance engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said ice is 'the most difficult storm to fight'.

'We are keeping up with the changing conditions, but it is a continual battle,' she said of the department's around-the-clock scrambling to treat the glazed roads. 'The precipitation is coming in waves, and we have to apply more salt.'

Icy roads created dangerous conditions and travel headaches for many people who avoided authorities' pleas to stay indoors except for necessary outings.


Ice Cube

Nature is harsh: Perfectly frozen fox is eerie reminder of that

© Johannes Stehle/picture-alliance/dpa/Associated Press
This poor fox is one of the victims of extreme weather conditions that are gripping vast parts of Germany and Europe.

A hunter in the southern city of Fridingen told the news agency dpa that the fox fell through the thin ice of the Danube river and drowned.

Franz Stehle, who cut the ice block and later put it on display outside his family hotel, said it's not unusual for animals to break through the frozen surface of the river in winter.

He says he's seen a frozen deer and wild boar before.

Icy temperatures have paralysed much of the continent, with more than 20 people killed across Europe.

Via Mashable

Attention

Massive earth crack opens up in Northern Cape, South Africa

© Facebook.com/HendrikvanHunks Photography
A massive sinkhole has been spotted in the Northern Cape along the R31 between Daniëlskuil and Kuruman.
A massive sinkhole has been spotted in the Northern Cape along the R31 between Daniëlskuil and Kuruman.

The sinkhole is on what appears to be a farm and near the road.

The road between Kuruman and Danielskuil has been closed due to the sinkhole.

Comment: Some other signs of earth 'opening up' in recent times include:


Attention

50-feet wide, 80-foot deep sinkhole closes car dealership in northeast California

© Laura Elliot/The Union
Recent storms have challenged Northern California's five-year drought, but Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on roads and property.

The doors were shuttered on Wednesday and Thursday at Liberty Motors, where a huge sinkhole opened near the parking lot behind the dealership and its former building next door, which was recently sold to Tripp's Auto Body. Liberty Motors and Tripp's resides on top of a culvert that failed. The culvert is a tributary to Little Wolf Creek.

While it hasn't been established for certain that weather is to blame, it also isn't the first to open this week. A sinkhole about 15 feet in diameter opened underneath The Stonehouse in Nevada City on Tuesday.

"The exact cause is something we're still trying to determine, but due to it failing, it's created a sinkhole about 80 to 100 feet deep, probably 60-by-50 at the top, so it's a fairly big hole at this point in time," said Tim Kiser, the public works director for the City of Grass Valley.

"At this time, we're trying to secure the site and remove a couple of trees that are in the hole, and then formulate a plan on what we'll do from there. Right now safety is No. 1; keeping this area safe and preventing any further damage."

Arrow Down

Massive sinkhole closes road in San Francisco Bay Area

© NBC
A massive sinkhole caused the collapse and closure of Alhambra Valley Road, near Pinole and Richmond, on Wednesday, according to the Contra Costa County Department of Public Works.

The road was closed indefinitely after the pavement and earth below it crumbled and washed away, leaving a large gap on a popular roadway in the East Bay.

"This route to DVC, for me, cuts a 22-mile commute to 13 miles, so that's crazy," said Andony Husary of Pinole.

Drivers were forced onto alternate routes as crews scrambled to repair the road.

"The Pinole Creek, it runs right through there," Pinole resident Jeremy Gomez said. "There's probably a 6 to 8-foot drainage pipe under there. Obviously it went out. It's crazy, real deep. I don't know how they're going to fix it."

County officials also closed several other roads Wednesday because of mudslides and flooding. Another sinkhole opened in Orinda after heavy rains washed away part of a culvert near Miner and Camino Pablo roads.


Cloud Lightning

Passenger plane struck in mid-air by lightning bolt over Moscow in the middle of winter


Storm chaser Julia Musina said her friend recorded the terrifying moment on January 2
This is the terrifying moment a packed passenger plane is struck in mid-air by a bolt of lightning.

The Boeing 747 had left Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport as rain lashed down from ominous grey skies just before nightfall on January 2.

Moments into the ascent for the two hour 20 minutes flight to Sochi, a powerful bolt of lightning ripped down from the sky - striking the plane's carriage.

Storm chaser Julia Musina said: 'It's pretty scary to see this from the ground. The people on the plane must have been really nervous if they noticed what had happened.

'The plane just carried on like nothing had affected it. It's not nice for nervous flyers, though. Take off is the scariest time.


Comment: See also: Lightning hits airplane in rare strike over Iceland


Binoculars

Dovekie seabird from the Arctic turns up in Bermuda


Dovekie (Little auk)
You thought the recent weather was cold by Bermuda's standards? This little auk probably thought so too.

The dovekie, right, which is related to puffins and breeds in Iceland and Greenland, was found at Ferry Point Park by a group of American students on a field trip.

According to birder Andrew Dobson, it is the first dovekie found on the island in almost 50 years, and was brought here by strong winds.

Temperatures on Monday had fallen to a near-record low of 53F (12C), with winds gusting at 37 knots.

© Annie Lee
Dovekie (Little auk)
The dovekie is the smallest member of the auk family in the North Atlantic.

A seabird, it breeds predominantly in high-arctic regions and it winters in massive numbers in the low-arctic and boreal waters of northeastern North America.

Attention

Dead whale found on East Lombok Beach, Indonesia

© ANTARA/Nyoman Budhiana
Photo document of whale stranded in Batu Tumpeng, Klungkung, Bali, on Monday (Jan. 14th, 2016).
A dead whale was found stranded on Seriwe Beach in Jerowaru Sub-district, East Lombok District, West Nusa Tenggara Province.

"The dead whale was found by the local fishermen on Thursday," Senior Adjunct Commissioner, Dewa Wijaya of the West Nusa Tenggara Police stated here, Friday.

The whale, weighing four tons, was 10 meters long, and its diameter was one meter.

He believed that the whale was rather old, so it was easily washed ashore by the waves.