Earth ChangesS


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.


One giant blunder for mankind: how NASA lost moon pictures

THE heart-stopping moments when Neil Armstrong took his first tentative steps onto another world are defining images of the 20th century: grainy, fuzzy, unforgettable.

But just 37 years after Apollo 11, it is feared the magnetic tapes that recorded the first moon walk - beamed to the world via three tracking stations, including Parkes's famous "Dish" - have gone missing at NASA's Goddard Space Centre in Maryland.


US space commander predicts satellite attacks

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - The Air Force's new top commander for space predicted on Tuesday future attacks on U.S. satellites and called for greatly expanded tracking and identification of payloads launched by other countries.

Currently, U.S. efforts are focused on determining if an overseas launch is a ballistic missile or designed to put an object in orbit, then cataloging it over a period that can take weeks, said Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, who heads the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

"I say those days are over," he told an annual conference here on the fledgling, multibillion-dollar U.S. anti-missile shield. "If it's a space launch, we can't afford to relax."

"We need to know what the intent of that launch is," he said, including whether an object could jam or otherwise harm satellites or spread micro-satellites that could do so.

Comment: Comment:
"And in the future, I'm convinced they'll strike at these capabilities, if nothing else to attempt to level the playing field," he said.
Who is "they"??


Planets plan boosts tally to 12

The number of planets around the Sun could rise from nine to 12 - with more on the way - if experts approve a radical new vision of our Solar System.

Cloud Lightning

Yangtze River suffers rare drought in flood season

YICHANG, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Yangtze, China's longest river, is gripped by a rare drought this summer with water in many sections of the river at historically low levels.

The Yangtze River Hydrological Bureau said that, in August, the volume of water entering the Three Gorges Reservoir, in the middle reaches of the river, was only 8,400 cubic meters per second, about the same as the February dry season.


Large Quake Rattles Mexico City

MEXICO CITY, Mexico -- An earthquake rocked central and western Mexico on Friday, forcing office workers and residents to evacuate buildings in Mexico City.

The tremor, measuring 5.9 magnitude, was centered in western Michoacan state. It was not immediately known whether there were any casualties or serious damage to buildings.

The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado gave a preliminary magnitude estimate of 5.9.

"It was very short, but it felt really strong," said 74-year-old Juana Ruiz in Mexico City's historic center, which was devastated by a massive earthquake in 1985


Spanish minister says fires "strategically planned"

MADRID - A wave of forest fires sweeping through northwestern Spain appear to have been "strategically planned," Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba has said as he visited the region.

On a visit to the Galician regional capital of Santiago de Compostela Rubalcaba said Friday many fires seemed to be "strategically planned with very evil intentions."


Typhoon kills over 100 in China

CANGNAN, China - The strongest typhoon to hit China in half a century killed more than 100 people, dozens of whom had taken shelter in a house that collapsed, Xinhua news agency said on Friday, and the toll appeared likely to rise.

Typhoon Saomai tore into Cangnan county in the eastern province of Zhejiang on Thursday after authorities had moved hundreds of thousands in the densely populated commercial province to safety.

By Friday evening, 104 people were confirmed dead and 190 were missing in Zhejiang and neighboring Fujian province, Xinhua said. Some 54,000 houses were destroyed.

State television put the direct economic loss at 11.3 billion yuan ($1.42 billion).