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Wed, 31 May 2023
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Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Dozens die in Bangladesh ferry sinking during storm

Kishoreganji, Bangladesh - A crowded ferry sank during a tropical storm in northern Bangladesh, killing at least 36 people and leaving 50 more missing, officials said Tuesday.

The death toll from the accident late Monday could rise because some of those missing were feared trapped inside the sunken ferry, said local government administrator Sultan Ahmed.

Better Earth

Shrimp can see beyond the rainbow

LONDON - A giant shrimp living on Australia's Great Barrier Reef can see a world beyond the rainbow that is invisible to other animals, scientists said on Wednesday.

Mantis shrimps, dubbed "thumb splitters" by divers because of their vicious claws, have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom, capable of seeing colors from the ultraviolet to the infrared, as well as detecting other subtle variations in light.

Mantis shrimp
©REUTERS/Roy Caldwell/Handout
A Mantis shrimp (Gonodactylus smithii) is seen in this undated handout photograph released in London May 14, 2008.

Bizarro Earth

New storm heads toward cyclone-devastated Myanmar

YANGON - Another powerful storm is headed toward Myanmar's cyclone-devastated delta and the U.N. is warning of a second wave of deaths.

Thailand's prime minister says, however, that Myanmar officials told him they are in control of the cyclone relief operations and doesn't need foreign experts.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej says the Myanmar junta guaranteed that there are no disease outbreaks and no starvation among the estimated 2 million survivors.


Thousands of Mongolian gazelles die trying to enter Russia

Thousands of Mongolian gazelles, or zerens, who have been forced north by years of drought, have died after being caught up in barbed wire lining the Russian border, a popular tabloid reported on Wednesday.

Komsomolskaya Pravda said over 20,000 zerens, a species of antelope, have managed to cross the fence on the Mongolian side but have become entangled in the three-meter-high fence on the Russian side, and have died of injuries and thirst.

The animals have been trying to reach Russia's Daursky nature reserve just across the border, which is rich in vegetation and water.

Bizarro Earth

Molten rock on the move in New Zealand volcano

Vulcanologists say molten rock appears to be moving higher inside New Zealand's Mt. Ruapehu. They say elevated gas output, high lake temperatures and tremors continue to indicate unrest at Ruapehu, but say it is not clear whether an eruption is imminent.

Eruptions in 1995 and 1996 wrecked the ski seasons in those years and were economically disastrous for the area, driving the Turoa ski resort into receivership. Scientists have been monitoring the mountain closely since a moderate-sized steam eruption in the crater lake last September.

No further eruptions have occurred, but skiers were warned last month that the increase in gas output and the higher temperature of the volcano means there is ongoing activity.


Jumbo squid swims north, imperilling British Columbia hake

Persistent sightings have some calling for an expedition to determine how many of the predatory creatures exist in Canadian waters.

VANCOUVER - When British Columbia's hake fleet sets off to trawl the deep ocean off the West Coast later this month, the crews will be on alert for a strange, voracious squid that is invading the north Pacific.

The Humboldt, or jumbo squid, is usually found off Mexico, but there is a heightened alert on the B.C. fishing grounds this year because the species has been making its way up the coast of North America, devastating hake stocks as it goes.

"I don't know much about them but they sound like quite a predator," said Brian Mose, director of the Deep Sea Trawlers Association of British Columbia.

Mr. Mose is sending a message to all fleet members, asking them to report any encounters they have with the large squid, which has been expanding its range both north and south.


UN alert: One-fourth of world's wheat at risk from new fungus

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in March that Iran had detected a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust called Ug99.

The fungal disease could spread to other wheat producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-quarter of the world's wheat.


Beebe declares disaster in Arkansas, Phillips counties

Stuttgart, Ark. - Governor Beebe has declared Arkansas and Phillips counties as state disasters areas, after a tornado and severe storms swept through on Saturday.

It's the latest of disaster declarations for Beebe. The governor declared disasters in 11 counties after tornadoes on May 2, in 60 counties after widespread flooding in March and April and 13 counties after tornadoes in February.

Better Earth

Global warming brings tropical birds to Hong Kong, watchers say

The sighting of two rarely seen tropical birds in Hong Kong could be down to climate change, bird experts said Saturday. The birds - a great frigate and the white-tailed tropicbird - were both spotted around Po Toi, Hong Kong's southern most island, over the last month.

It was the first time the white-tailed tropic had ever been spotted in Hong Kong and only the fourth sighting of the frigate.

Both birds are usually seen in more tropical climates such as the Pacific and Indian Oceans.


'Severe' damage near China quake epicentre: military official

A town at the epicentre of China's deadly earthquake has suffered "unusually severe" damage, with more than 70 percent of roads damaged and all bridges destroyed, a top military commander said Tuesday.