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Tue, 05 Dec 2023
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One dead, 11 missing in flash floods around Indonesia's Lake Toba

One person died and 11 were missing after flash floods hit near Lake Toba in Indonesia's North Sumatra province, the country's disasters agency BNPB said, with scores of people evacuated and rescue efforts underway.

Heavy rain followed by flash floods on Friday evening hit the region located on the shores of the lake, damaging dozens of houses, a church, a school and a hotel, BNPB said in a statement on late Saturday.

Lake Toba, the world's biggest volcanic lake, is a popular tourist destination for Indonesians and international visitors.

Black Cat

Leopard mauls 13-year-old boy to death in Indian district of Bijnor, 18th human kill there in 9 months

Stock image of leopard
© Getty
A 13-year-old boy was mauled to death by a leopard at a sugarcane field on Thursday.

The attack occurred around 1.30pm at Sabdalpur Rehra village in Bijnor district. Notably, this is the 18th human kill in a leopard attack in nine months in Bijnor. The last incident was on November 3, when a big cat killed another boy.

The forest department claimed that more than 40 leopards have been trapped and relocated since the attacks began in February.

On Thursday, Alfez along with friends went to a sugarcane field, 500m away from the village. Once they reached, a leopard suddenly appeared and dragged him away. Alfez's friends then screamed for help. Farmers working nearby started looking for the boy.


Elephants claim 3 lives in 4 days in Indian district of Sundargarh - 18 killed there in 11 months

Residents of villages in Sundargarh district are living in fear as elephants, in search of food, have reportedly claimed three lives in the past four days, bringing the total number of human deaths to 18 in the past 11 months. The ongoing paddy harvesting season has escalated the human-elephant conflict, with incidents reported across various forest divisions.

On November 29, Hiralal Behera (25) was killed by a wild elephant while attempting to protect his standing crops near Gargarbahal village in Bargaon range. The following evening, Mangri Munda (58) lost her life when a wild elephant attacked her house at Bhaluadihi in Patmunda under the Koida range. Additionally, the death of a woman in a suspected elephant attack inside the Satabhaya forest of Birmitrapur range on November 29 is pending confirmation with the autopsy report.


Eruption on newly formed island caught on camera off the coast of Iwo Jima, Japan

Newly released aerial footage captured by the Japanese coast guard showed a volcano exploding on a new island formed off the coast of Iwo Jima.


Skies in Mongolia mysteriously turn blood-red

The eerie red skies seen in Mongolia.

The eerie red skies seen in Mongolia.
In an extraordinary celestial display, the skies over Mongolia turned deep, blood-red as the country experienced one of the rarest auroral events on Friday and early Saturday.

The intense colouration is attributed to the initial impact of a significant solar storm that collided with Earth, creating a spectacle that left onlookers in awe.

The phenomenon, known as an aurora, typically occurs closer to the poles and is often green in colour. However, the auroras seen in Mongolia were of a striking crimson hue, a rarity caused by the interaction of solar particles with oxygen at high altitudes — over 241 kilometres above the Earth's surface, where the atmosphere is much thinner.


7.6-magnitude earthquake strikes the Philippine Sea, 5 aftershocks of mag.6 or greater

A major, 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck in the Philippine Sea on Saturday, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The temblor happened at 10:37 p.m. Philippine time, data from the agency shows.

As seismologists review available data, they may revise the earthquake's reported magnitude. Additional information collected about the earthquake may also prompt U.S.G.S. scientists to update the shake-severity map.

Comment: Earthquake Track noted 5 aftershocks of mag.6 or greater, for details see here, here, here, here and here.

Better Earth

Unusually large Southern Hemisphere ozone hole baffles scientists


FILEPHOTO: Ozone hole 2021
The ozone hole over Antarctica keeps intriguing by its unusual pattern this 2023 season. The Southern Hemisphere ozone hole size had a series of rebounds in late November, as shown by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) data, at a period when it usually declines until its closure. This behaviour raises questions about what's behind yet another peculiar ozone hole season.

The Southern Hemisphere ozone hole is unusually large, at a time when it normally reduces until its total closure, generally in December. Instead, since the end of October the ozone hole area has virtually remained unchanged, with a series of rebounds, remaining at a size of some 15 km2, to become the third largest after 30 November.

Comment: Despite decades of propaganda scaring people into believing that everything from hairspray to old fridges were destroying the ozone layer, it has become fairly clear that, despite claims to the contrary, the mechanisms driving the formation of the ozone layer are very poorly understood by mainstream science: Magnetic storms can destroy up to a quarter of the Earth's ozone layer, new study reveals

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More than normal influx of hungry short-eared owls to UK from Scandinavia

Short-eared owls, like this one seen over Kent in October, are proving a hit with bird-watchers in East Yorkshire
© Gareth Fuller
Short-eared owls, like this one seen over Kent in October, are proving a hit with bird-watchers in East Yorkshire
An influx of short-eared owls along England's east coast has sparked interest among bird-watchers across the UK eager to see the visitors.

In recent weeks, large numbers of the owls have been spotted at places such as the banks of the Humber estuary.

Wildlife guide Margaret Boyd, from East Yorkshire, said "so many more than normal" had been spotted in the area.

A "shortage of food" in regions like Scandinavia was thought have left the owls looking further afield, she said.

According to the RSPB, short-eared owls were "of European conservation concern" as their numbers were in moderate decline.


Heavy snowfall shuts down air, rail links in southern Germany

A man crosses a road early in the morning after heavy snowfall in Munich
© Matthias Schrader/AP
A man crosses a road early in the morning after heavy snowfall in Munich
Heavy snowfall overnight has paralysed air and rail connections in the southern German state of Bavaria, leaving thousands of travellers stranded.

All flights were grounded at Munich Airport, a key regional and international hub, until 6am (05:00) GMT on Sunday, the airport said. Air traffic had initially been suspended until noon (11:00 GMT) on Saturday.

"Passengers are strongly advised not to travel to the airport today [Saturday] and to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport tomorrow," airport authorities said.

German airline Lufthansa noted the knock-on effect of the closure of Munich airport, saying that many other airports in Germany, including the one in Frankfurt "are affected with limited flight operations".

The severe weather, which is expected to continue, also disrupted rail services in Bavaria, with the main railway station in the capital, Munich, brought to a virtual standstill.


Etna erupts again, sending hot lava down its snowy slopes

Mount Etna eruption lights up the night sky

Mount Etna eruption lights up the night sky
Mount Etna on the Italian island of Sicily erupted at dawn on Friday, creating a festive spectacle of fire and ice.

At 3,3057 metres, it's Europe's tallest volcano and has been constantly active in the past ten years.

But no one has been injured and no one is in danger.

Volcanologists have described the activity on Etna in recent days as a succession of Strombolian eruptions - which are moderately explosive but short eruptions named after the volcano on the nearby island of Stromboli.