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Tue, 17 Oct 2017
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Earth Changes


'Hungry bear' crisis leaves two people dead in the far east of Russia

© Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Kamchatka brown bears, which live in Russia’s far east.
Two people have been killed by bears in Russia's far east as increasingly large numbers of the animals are approaching humans due to a lack of food sources.

Authorities on Sakhalin Island last week said 83 bears had to be shot dead because they were hostile. That figure is nearly three times higher than last year.

"This has never happened before," a forestry worker told Agence France-Presse, asking not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

"There are not enough fish, berries, nuts," he said, adding that overfishing of salmon was partly to blame.

"There should not have been any fishing nets installed at all this summer, there are so little fish, but they installed them anyway," he said.

Comment: See also these two related reports from September: Oil worker killed and eaten by hungry brown bears as beasts besiege towns and villages in Russia

Boy mauled to death by brown bear in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia


New fears Bali's Mount Agung could erupt at any moment as volcanic activity soars and magma rises to the surface

There are fresh fears that Bali's Mount Agung (pictured) could erupt after the volcano reached peak earthquake activity, with thousands of tremors a day
There are fresh fears that Bali's Mount Agung could erupt after the volcano reached peak earthquake activity today.

Up to 1,000 tremors have been recorded in the area each day, with the frequent movements indicating a flow of magma towards the surface, Perth Now reports.

It comes as Indonesia's Mount Sinabung erupted on Sunday, causing evacuations and spewing ash half a kilometre into the air.

The activity at Mount Agung is being closely monitored by airlines, with travel to Bali expected to be severely affected should an eruption occur.

An emergency operations centre has been set up at Bali's International Airport, with travel insurance companies also imposing restrictions on policies in the wake of the warnings.


Mount Sinabung spews clouds of ash and prepares to erupt as authorities plan for emergency evacuations in Indonesia

Lava flows from crater of Mount Sinabung during an eruption in Karo, Indonesia, on Sunday
A huge volcano in Indonesia erupted on Sunday, spewing hot ash into the air.

Thousands were evacuated after Mount Sinabung in Karo, Indonesia, started erupting and spewing ash half a kilometre into the air.

The volcano began erupting in 2010 after lying dormant for four centuries.

A large eruption in May 2016 killed seven people.


La Palma volcano in the Canary Islands hit by hundreds of earthquakes in 15 hours

La Palma was hit by 44 earthquakes over a magnitude 2.1 from Friday evening
A shock map has been released by Spanish authorities showing where the tremors hit in the area surrounding the deadly Cumbre Vieja.

There were 44 earthquakes recorded up to 2.1 magnitude hit between Friday at 1.52pm and Saturday to 4.17am.

But experts believe the total number, including ones too small to be located, within the seismic storm was 352.

The quakes follow another seismic storm the weekend before. which saw around 50 tremors in three days, between 1.5 and 2.7 on the Richter Scale.


Whale carcass washes up at Wurtulla, Australia

© Glen Bowden
Boardriders clubs and residents are fearful a whale carcass buried at Wurtulla on the weekend has the potential to attract sharks onto one of the region's most popular surfing beaches.

The whale appeared to have already attracted a lot of attention from sharks, and was missing large portions of its bulk by the time it washed ashore at Wurtulla.

Surfers this morning have reported large chunks of whale flesh had also washed ashore at Kawana Pocket on the southern side of Point Cartwright.

A petition launched by Windansea Boardriders with support from Kawana Boardriders had attracted more than 500 signatures within a couple of hours of it being launched with State MP Jarrod Bleijie saying his office had also been inundated with calls.


Humpback whale carcass found near Ucluelet, British Columbia

© Shannon Floucault
Shannon Floucault snapped this photo of a washed up Humpback whale carcass near Muscle Beach last week.
A humpback whale carcass has washed up on a Twin Rivers beach near Ucluelet.

Photos of the carcass were being shared on the Salmon Beach Village Facebook page Sunday afternoon and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada researchers were reportedly at the site taking samples from the whale on Saturday.

Local marine mammal researcher Wendy Szaniszlo told the Westerly News on Sunday that the photos suggest, "It's definitely an adult humpback and it's definitely a male," but further information is still being determined.

"To me there was nothing obvious for any kind of sign of a human interaction," she said.


Four refugees trampled to death by wild elephants in Bangladesh

© Getty
Charging elephant
Wild elephants trampled sleeping Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in the early hours of Saturday, killing three children and a woman in the second such incident since the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar in just a few weeks.

Many trees on the forested hills of Balukhali in southern Bangladesh, where the incident took place, have been chopped down to house the massive influx of Rohingya Muslims escaping violence in neighbouring Myanmar.

Tarpaulin and bamboo shelters have been built on elephant walkways in some areas, sparking environmental concerns, as the country struggles to accommodate an unprecedented number of people.

Besides those killed, four refugees from neighbouring tents were injured and were in critical condition at Sadar Hospital in Cox's Bazar, the town's additional superintendent of police Afrujul Hoque Totul told Reuters.


Boy who died in County Antrim, Northern Ireland may have been attacked by family dog

© Angela Antunes / CC by 2.0
An 11-year-old boy who died in Co Antrim yesterday may have been attacked by his family's pet dog.

Police have launched an investigation over the tragedy which unfolded at about 12.20pm at a house in Queen's Avenue in Glengormley.

Ambulance crews were called to the property and said a boy with "lacerations to the head" was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

It was later confirmed the child had died.

A 38-year-old man is in custody assisting police with their inquiries. A post-mortem examination is due to be carried out.


California wildfires: At least 10 dead, 1,500 structures destroyed as 20,000 flee flames sweeping through wine country (UPDATES)

© AP
Coffey Park homes burn in Santa Rosa, California
Raging wildfires in California's wine country have claimed at least 10 lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.

Wildfires whipped by powerful winds have swept through the region, destroying 1,500 homes and businesses as flames raged unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighbourhoods.

Several fires broke out virtually simultaneously and then spread rapidly overnight, sending residents fleeing as embers rained down and flames raged around them. Two hospitals in Santa Rosa, the largest city in the region with 175,000 people, were forced to evacuate patients.

Later in the day, fires from ruptured gas lines dotted the smoky landscapes of blackened hillsides. Fire trucks raced by smoldering roadside landscaping in search of higher priorities.

The flames were unforgiving throughout the city, torching block after block with little to salvage.

Hundreds of homes in the Fountain Grove area were leveled by flames so hot they melted the glass off of cars and turned aluminum wheels into liquid. One neighbourhood of older homes was scorched, leaving only brick chimneys and downed power lines.

Comment: Visitors to Disneyland posted images across social media showing California's famous theme park shrouded in an apocalyptic-looking orange haze as fires raged in the nearby Anaheim Hills.

The death toll from the California wildfires is expected to rise as blazes continue ripping through wine country, officials said. More than 100 people have been reported missing in Sonoma County, where at least seven people were killed because of the fires, making it one of the most devastating natural disasters in the county's history.

Here are some of the deadliest wildfires in California state history:

Griffith Park, Los Angeles County (October 1933): 29 dead

Tunnel - Oakland Hills, Alameda County (October 1991): 25 dead

Cedar, San Diego County (October 2003): 15 dead

Rattlesnake, Glenn County (July 1953): 15 dead

Loop, Los Angeles County (November 1966): 12 dead

Inaja, San Diego County (November 1956): 11 dead

Hauser Creek, San Diego County (October 1943): 11 dead

Iron Alps Complex, Trinity County (August 2008): 10 dead

Harris, San Diego County (October 2007): 8 dead

Canyon, Los Angeles County (August 1968): 8 dead

Source: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Update (11 Oct.)

The toll from Northern California's ranging wildfires continued to grow as officials said the fires destroyed up to 2,000 structures and killed at least 17 people and fear the death toll will continue to rise. Sonoma County alone has received about 200 reports of missing people since Sunday night, and sheriff's officials have located 45 of those people, said county spokeswoman Maggie Fleming.

In Santa Rosa, the Tubbs fire leveled an entire neighborhood, burned a Hilton hotel, turned big-box stores into smoking ruins and prompted the evacuation of two hospitals - Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital and Kaiser's Santa Rosa Medical Center.

The two biggest blazes - the Tubbs fire and the Atlas Peak fire in Napa County - had burned 27,000 and 25,000 acres, respectively, said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. Both fires were uncontained, he added. California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties. More images and videos have been released showing devastating scenes of one of California's deadliest wildfires.

Update (12 Oct.)

The death toll has climbed to 23 as wildfires continue to blaze almost completely out of control in California's wine country and firefighters expect weather conditions to take a turn for the worse. More than 20,000 people have headed to evacuation centers across the region, with more leaving their homes as new areas are threatened.

At least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed since the wildfires started Sunday, making them the most destructive blazes in state history. About 8,000 firefighters are working across the state, along with 73 helicopters and 30 air tankers, according to a Cal Fire spokesperson. New resources are set to pour in following a request from California, including 175 engines from neighboring states and dozens more from federal agencies.

Satellite footage from before and after show the widespread destruction the flames have left in its wake.

© Google Earth / NASA

Update (13 Oct.)

The number of people confirmed dead in wildfires sweeping northern California has climbed to 31, the deadliest in California since 1933, when 29 people died in fires at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

Hundreds of people remain missing as at least 22 fires rampaged across the state's famous wine country. Strong winds that have fanned the flames eased in recent days, but forecasters warned they were set to pick up again on Friday night.

"We are not even close to being out of this emergency," Mark Ghilarducci, state director of emergency services, told reporters. State fire chief Ken Pimlott warned of "erratic, shifting winds all weekend".

More than 8,000 firefighters continue to battle the flames which have destroyed more than 3,500 buildings and homes over 170,000 acres (68,800 hectares) and displaced about 25,000 people.

Aerial footage shot in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday showed the extent of damage after wildfires ravaged the area for the second day in a row.

Update (14 Oct.)

The scale of the disaster in California has became clearer as authorities said the fires had chased an estimated 90,000 people from their homes and destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses. The death toll rose to 36, making this the deadliest and most destructive series of wildfires in California history.

In all, 17 large fires still burned across the northern part of the state, with more than 9,000 firefighters attacking the flames using air tankers, helicopters and more than 1,000 fire engines. "The emergency is not over, and we continue to work at it, but we are seeing some great progress," said the state's emergency operations director, Mark Ghilarducci.

Dramatic video was released of body camera footage on the first night of the fire, showing an unnamed deputy braving wild flames and thick smoke to clear out a community already being devoured by the flames. "Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!" the Sonoma County deputy yells to drivers who are hesitating and moving slowly as they flee.

Meanwhile on Friday afternoon, a shallow 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck California's Mendocino County, north of Napa County, according to the US Geological Survey. The quake occurred near Mendocino County's Redwood Valley, an area in the northwest section of the state, where 34,000 acres have burned up since Sunday, due to the 17 wildfires in the region.

Windy conditions, joined with low humidity, could spread the flames drastically, the National Weather Service warned in a tweet.

The recent drought in California killed more than 100 million trees, according to a U.S. Forest Service's aerial survey last year. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack then warned, "These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California."

The latest update on the fires from RT America here:

Update (15 Oct.)

The death toll in Northern California wildfires has risen to 40 people, making them the deadliest in the state's history. Hundreds more people remain missing as thousands of firefighters continue to battle the blazes across the state. More than 10,000 firefighters, sent from all over the country, are making slow progress in fighting the deadliest blazes in state's history. Cal Fire reported that aircraft dropped more than 2 million gallons of "retardant" on fires since Monday.

"The devastation is just unbelievable. It is a horror that no one could have imagined," California Governor Jerry Brown said on a visit to Santa Rosa. "This is truly one of the greatest tragedies that California has ever faced."

Despite the effort, firefighters are finding it extremely difficult to contain the infernos, according to the latest statistics. As of 8pm Saturday, the Nuns Fire between Sonoma and Santa Rosa is only 15 percent contained, the Tubbs Fire between Calistoga and Santa Rosa is 50 percent contained, while the Atlas Fire in eastern Napa County is 48 percent contained. Another 13 inferno pockets continue to terrorize California residents as far north as Butte, Lake, Mendocino and Yuba counties. Progress, however, was made in the Cascade Fire, which has been roughly 87 percent contained on Saturday, Cal Fire said. Mandatory evacuation orders were also lifted in Solano County.

Overall the fires consumed nearly 214,000 acres (86,000 hectares) in seven days of intense activity, forcing some 100,000 people out of their homes, Reuters reports. Around 3,000 were evacuated on Saturday from the city of Santa Rosa. Roughly 5,700 structures were reduced to ash.

The National Weather Service extended the red flag warning for Northern California to 8am Sunday, warning of wildland fire combustion and rapid spread conditions. Wildfires began tearing through the north of the state on October 8.

Meanwhile two men who hiked for miles through northern California wildfire territory expecting a grim discovery were met with a joyful one instead, as they were reunited with the family's beloved dog Izzy.


Heavy snowfall hits northwest China county, causing losses

A car is covered by snow in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Gansu Province, Oct. 9, 2017
A heavy snow hit Jingtai County in northwest China's Gansu Province on Sunday and Monday, disrupting life and causing losses to farmers.

The temperature plummet by up to 10 degrees Celsius as accumulated snow reached 25 centimeters. The snow left broken tree branches on roads and disrupted the traffic. "The sudden snow brought us much inconvenience. It covered many vehicles and makes it inconvenient for us to go out," said Zhang Yuanfang, a local resident.

The snow also left ice on several provincial highway sections as the fast-falling temperature brought dense fog that reduced visibility to less than 50 meters. It also caused huge economic losses to local farmers. One farm suffered loss of over one million yuan after more than 200 sheep were buried under the shed amid the snow.

Comment: See also: Early snow sighted in the mountains of China