Earth ChangesS


Chocolatiers see image of Virgin Mary in lump

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. - As a chocolatier to the rich and famous, Martucci Angiano has posed with many celebrities.But on Thursday she held in her hand a figure that dazzles her more than any Hollywood star: a 2-inch-tall column of chocolate drippings that workers at her gourmet chocolate company believe bears a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary.

Virgin Chocolate Mary


China touts initial success with first AIDS vaccine

BEIJING - China said initial test results of its firstAIDS vaccine showed it could protect people against theHIV virus.

None of the participants in the clinical trial's first phase showed severe adverse reactions after 180 days and some showed immunity to the HIV-1 virus 15 days after receiving the vaccine, the State Food and Drug Administration said.

"Initially, this indicates the vaccine is effective in stimulating the body's immunity," the administration said in a statement on its website.

Cloud Lightning

Pakistani flood toll at least 15

KARACHI - Pakistan's biggest city declared a public holiday on Friday as it cleaned up from heavy flooding that killed at least 15 people and more rain was expected, officials said.

Banks and the stock market in Karachi would remain open despite the holiday declared by the provincial government.

Most of the 15 people killed in the floods on Thursday were electrocuted while some were killed in traffic accidents during heavy downpours, an emergency service official said.


60 missing after volcano erupts in Ecuador

QUITO - About sixty people have been missing and 13 others were injured after southern Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupted violently, unleashing its highest level of activity since 1999, a local official said.

"The situation is indescribable. There are approximately 60 people missing in the highest-risk area, as well as seven wounded people who were taken to the city of Riobamba and six others wounded in Penipe," Penipe Mayor Juan Salazar told Ecuavisa television on Thursday.

The mayor said the areas were affected by lava and flames from the 5,029-meter (16,499-foot) volcano, located just 135 kilometers (83 miles) south of Quito.

"There was a very powerful explosion this morning, which produced incandescent rocks, ash and lava that devastated several areas," Salazar said.


Study: Man-made Climate Change Causing Stronger Hurricanes

The increase in the intensity and duration of Atlantic hurricanes in recent decades is due to temperature increases in the atmosphere caused by global warming, and not by natural variations in ocean temperature, according to a new study.

Recent studies have linked rising sea surface temperatures, or SSTs, in the Atlantic Ocean to climate change caused by human activities. Warmer SST's means the ocean is capable of storing more energy-energy that is converted into wind power during tropical storms.


Cost of water shortage: civil unrest, mass migration and economic collapse

Cholera may return to London, the mass migration of Africans could cause civil unrest in Europe and China's economy could crash by 2015 as the supply of fresh water becomes critical to the global economy. That was the bleak assessment yesterday by forecasters from some of the world's leading corporate users of fresh water, 200 of the largest food, oil, water and chemical companies.

Analysts working for Shell, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Cargill and other companies which depend heavily on secure water supplies, yesterday suggested the next 20 years would be critical as countries became richer, making heavier demands on scarce water supplies.


Rio Grande swelling, crews on alert

EL PASO, TX - Regional rains emptying into the Rio Grande pushed the river's level to the highest point since the historic storms from two weeks ago.

Officials with the National Weather Service say the river should have reached it's maximum point just after 6pm, cresting at a level between 8 and a half to 9 feet.


Rare floods leave hundreds homeless in northern Niger desert

NIAMEY - Torrential rains have left about a thousand people homeless over the past month in Ingal, a Tuareg region in the heart of the Sahel desert in Niger, a local governor said.

Many houses have been damaged and almost a hundred families, totalling "a thousand people, have found themselves homeless" Abba Malam Boukar, the governor of the nearby town of Agadez, said in a telephone interview with AFP.


Tropical storm nearing Japan, landfall likely

TOKYO - Tropical storm Wukong hung nearly stationary off southwestern Japan on Thursday, threatening prolonged heavy rains and landfall overnight.

Wukong -- meaning Monkey King, a legendary Chinese hero -- was 130 km (81 miles) southeast of Miyazaki at 2:45 p.m. (0545 GMT), nearly unchanged from its morning position.

It had slowed slightly and was heading west at 15 km an hour, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said, warning that its slowness meant heavy rains would linger in one area for a long time, increasing the chance of flooding.

Cloud Lightning

India's flood-hit Gujarat state evacuates thousands after heavy rains

AHMEDABAD, India - Authorities in India's flood-hit western state of Gujarat have moved tens of thousands of people to higher ground as more heavy rain caused rivers to rise, officials have said.

The new alert comes days after a first wave of flooding killed at least 65 people and caused widespread damage in Gujarat's Surat city.

"Fifty thousand people have been evacuated in the past 72 hours," said Rajesh Bhatt, deputy chief fire officer who was supervising relief work in Gujarat's commercial capital Ahmedabad, on Wednesday.