Earth ChangesS

Light Sabers

41 Seal Pups Die of Distemper in Denmark

An outbreak of distemper has been killing seal pups off the coast of Denmark, authorities said Saturday, warning that thousands of seals could die if the disease spreads to other northern European countries.

Since Tuesday, at least 41 harbor seal pups have been found dead on the small island of Anholt, midway between Denmark and Sweden, and tests indicate distemper, according to The Danish Forest and Nature Agency. The government agency normally finds around 30 dead seals a year.

"There is therefore reason to fear that we will see a large number of dead seals on Danish beaches in coming months," said Henrik Lykke Soerensen, an agency spokesman.

The agency said it would kill dying seals found on the shores of the island to try to prevent the spread of the disease, which does not affect humans.

The disease causes respiratory problems, fever and sometimes disorientation, while leaving the animal's immune system weakened and susceptible to other diseases, such as pneumonia.

Lykke Soerensen said it was still unclear which strain of virus authorities were dealing with, but that the agency was expecting to identify it in the next few days.


Heat wave in Bulgarian capital sends 27 people to hospital beds

Dozens of people turned for medical aid and another twenty-seven were hospitalized after receiving a thermal shock in the Bulgarian capital Sofia Saturday, as temperatures in many places in this country struck record highs.

Saturday became the hottest day over the past 100 years here, with temperatures climbing to over 40 degrees Celsius in Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Veliko Tyrnovo, Varna and Vidin.

Cloud Lightning

Pakistan: Hundreds Killed In Heavy Rain

More than 220 people have been killed after heavy wind and rain wreaked havoc in Pakistan.

Storms had battered Karachi, the country's biggest city, for three hours.

Officials had set the death toll at 43.

But Health Minister of Sindh Sardar Ahmed said welfare organisation Edhi Trust had received bodies of another 185 people killed in rain-related accidents.

"Now the total number of those killed because of rain is 228," he said.

"These deaths are caused by electrocution, falling trees, house collapses and road accidents."

Edhi Trust spokesman Anwar Kazmi said most deaths had taken place in the low-lying areas of the sprawling city.


Spark from tool ignites big wildfire in Alaska

An Alaskan wildfire ignited by an errant spark from a power tool has spread to 50,000 acres and burned at least 70 structures in a popular recreation area, officials said on Saturday.

Cloud Lightning

Heavy rains and floods kill at least 32 people in India

Hyderabad: Blinding rain and a ferocious storm have killed at least 32 people in Andhra Pradesh since yesterday morning, most of them in Kurnool where flood waters also entered ancient temples.

Villagers being rescued from Alampur in Kurnool district on Saturday.

Light Sabers

New Delhi eyes frogs to stop mosquitos

New Delhi officials are considering the import of thousands of mosquito-eating frogs to prevent an outbreak of dengue fever.

Severe water pollution has decimated the city's once thriving frog population that fed on mosquito larvae, curbing the spread of dengue, malaria and encephalitis, The Times of London said.


Bizarre Horseshoe Bat Photographed for First Time

America's Next Top Model it ain't. But this bizarre-looking bat got rave reviews when it recently posed for the camera for the first time.

Scientists found the twisted-faced creature, called the Maclaud's horseshoe bat, while surveying the highland forests of Guinea in West Africa this spring.

German biologist Natalie Weber took this picture after finding 16 members of the species in a series of remote caves. The bat had never been photographed before and had not been seen in the wild in nearly 40 years.

"Our rediscovery is good news insofar as the species is still there and as we have shown that the distribution range appears to be somewhat larger than previously known," said Jakob Fahr, an ecologist with Germany's University of Ulm, who coordinated the survey.

Life Preserver

Floods alert as UK faces more rain

Britain is braced for another day of heavy rain and storms causing flooding, disruption to travellers and another mudbath for Glastonbury-goers.

The Environment Agency has four flood watches in place - at Faustian Beck and Pinxton near Nottingham, the River Doe Lea in Derbyshire, and Frisby near Leicester.

And flooding is also causing problems on the railways, disrupting the journeys of thousands of passengers.

A Network Rail spokesman said the east coast mainline outside Nottingham is blocked by a landslip and the west coast mainline south of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire is also blocked both ways.


US: Georgia Wildfire Still Smoldering

Ernest Sweat paused by the charred pine trunk he found burning like a match two months ago and wondered - could he have stopped the largest Southeastern wildfire in more than a century?

Sweat was driving home April 16 when he spotted smoke along the dirt road to his tobacco farm. Power lines were snapped by fallen pine and flames climbed surrounding trees. He dashed home to call the fire department, but the blaze had already spread.

It would become the Southeast's biggest wildfire since 1898, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

''If I could have just been here a little bit earlier, before it got into those roots, I could've outed it,'' he said.

Within a day, the wildfire burned a 9-mile path through rural timberland. A week later, the blaze had destroyed 18 homes and spread into the Okefenokee Swamp.


Storm Leaves Over 200 Localities In Western Romania Without Electric Pwr

More than 200 localities in Arad, western Romania, were left without electric power on Thursday night, after a strong storm. The authorities are working to solve the problems.