Earth ChangesS


Quakes rock region as Pacific tests tsunami alert system

SYDNEY - Dozens of countries across the Pacific took part in a test of a regional tsunami warning system as a series of earthquakes hit the region for real.

The exercise, code-named Pacific Wave '06, was declared a success by officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii, who said the earthquakes had not disrupted the test.

"If those events were large enough to cause a tsunami warning to be issued then we would have terminated the test at that point," duty geophysicist Stuart Koyanagi told AFP.

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand's Kermadec Islands late Tuesday, just hours before the test began, the US Geological Survey reported.

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake then struck near Indonesia's Nias island at 1528 GMT Tuesday and two temblors of magnitude 5.8 and 6.0 struck Tonga after the exercise began at 1900 GMT with a mock 9.2 quake off Chile, the USGS said.


U.S. Has Warmest April on Record

WASHINGTON - Last month was the warmest April on record for the United States, offering many Americans a pleasant spring month.

For the 48 contiguous states the average temperature was 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month, the National Climatic Data Center reported Tuesday.

That made it the nation's warmest April since record keeping began in 1895.


Utah Campground Closed Because of Plague

SALT LAKE CITY -- A campground at Natural Bridges National Monument has been closed because of bubonic plague detected among field mice and chipmunks.

Plague also has been found this spring in rodent populations at Mesa Verde National Park and Colorado National Monument.


Major earthquake rocks Pacific near Kermadec Islands

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of the Kermadec Islands, northeast of New Zealand, at 1039 GMT, the US Geological Survey reported on its website

Better Earth

Climate change a 'deadly threat'

The Christian Aid charity has warned that 184 million people in Africa alone could die as a result of climate change before the end of the century.

Climate-induced floods, famine, drought and conflict could reverse recent gains in reducing poverty, it says.

Its report says rich nations must aid poorer ones to adopt non-fossil-fuel energy sources such as solar power.

The report comes as almost 190 states gather in Bonn, Germany, to discuss climate change.

The Christian Aid report, entitled The Climate of Poverty: Facts, Fears and Hopes, says rich countries must end their dependence on fossil fuels and aid poorer nations to switch to wind, solar and wave energies.

"Climate change is taking place and will inevitably continue," the report says.

Cloud Lightning

Indonesia Hit by Magnitude 6.9 Tremor; Local Tsunami Possible

Indonesia today was hit by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, which may generate a "destructive local tsunami,'' the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The tremor struck shortly before 10:28 p.m. local time off the coast of northern Sumatra near the island of Nias, the U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors seismic events, said in a report on its Web site, putting the magnitude at 6.8.


Feeling of 'doom' pervades Indonesian volcano zone

Streams of lava flowed down the sides of Mount Merapi on Tuesday as officials urged people living near the Indonesian volcano to leave the area.

"There's a real sense of imminent doom," Times of London reporter Nick Meo told CBC News in an interview from Yogyakarta Tuesday morning. "Authorities are saying an eruption could happen at any time."

The volcano was spewing rocks and hot ash four kilometres down the mountain's slope, although the clouds of smoke coming from the crater were smaller than they had appeared the day before, Meo said.


New England Sees Worst Floods in 70 Years

Storm-weary New England residents waded out into a fifth day of rain Tuesday as the region's dams kept a tenuous hold against cresting rivers and evacuees wondered what remained of their homes after water filled their basements and surged over some rooftops.

Across northeastern Massachusetts, thousands of people fled submerged neighborhoods during the region's worst flooding in nearly 70 years. More than a foot of rain fell during the weekend in some areas.

"It seemed almost Biblical," Gov. Mitt Romney said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "We're sort of making jokes about Noah and taking two of each kind of animal because we haven't ever seen rain like this."

Better Earth

3 major hurricanes to hit US this year: AccuWeather

NEW YORK - Three major hurricanes will strike the United States this year, with the storm-battered Gulf Coast most at risk in June and July, forecaster AccuWeather predicted Monday.

The outlook comes after a record-setting hurricane season in 2005 that devastated New Orleans and other coastal cities along the Gulf, and dealt a heavy blow to the U.S. oil industry that sent energy prices to record highs.

"The 2006 storm season will be a creeping threat," said AccuWeather Chief Forecaster Joe Bastardi. He projected that five hurricanes, three of them with winds over 110 miles per hour, would hit the U.S. coastline.


Major Quake Rocks Islands Near New Zealand

A powerful earthquake hit deep under the South Pacific late Tuesday north of New Zealand, and it rocked a wide area of the country, but no damage or injuries were reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a bulletin saying the magnitude 7.4 quake had not generate a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami but warned it could spawn a small tsunami within 60 miles of its epicenter.