Earth ChangesS


Case may be first 3-person bird flu chain

GENEVA - A family of eight infected with bird flu in Indonesia likely passed the disease among themselves, but world health officials said Wednesday there is no reason to raise its pandemic alert level.

It is the fourth - and largest - family cluster of bird flu cases likely transmitted from person to person since the start of the outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003, World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

But this case may mark the first time bird flu has passed from person to person to person, a top U.S. health official said.


New Orleans seen top target for '06 hurricanes

ORLANDO, Florida - New Orleans, still down and out from last year's assault by Hurricane Katrina, is the U.S. city most likely to be struck by hurricane force winds during the 2006 storm season, a researcher said on Wednesday.

The forecast gives New Orleans a nearly 30 percent chance of being hit by a hurricane and a one in 10 chance the storm will be a Category 3 or stronger, meaning sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 km per hour), said Chuck Watson of Kinetic Analysis Corp., Savannah, Georgia a risk assessment firm.


Himalayan forests are quietly vanishing: Indian Government Oblivious

THE Himalayas may never be the same again. The forests growing on the roof of the world are disappearing, and the rate of deforestation is so rapid that a quarter of animal and plant species native to this biodiversity hotspot, including tigers and leopards, could be gone by the end of the century.

Worse, the Indian government is oblivious to the problem because official figures erroneously suggest that forest cover will rise rather than fall. This mistake has led to the approval of new schemes, such as hydroelectric dams, that will exacerbate the devastation.

Cloud Lightning

It will rain fish & frogs

BRITAIN is set for a summer downpour of FROGS and FISH, scientists said yesterday.

Recent changeable weather conditions such as storms, droughts and sudden downpours have vastly increased the chance of objects falling from the sky.

Experts say the most likely spot for a BFO - "bizarre falling object" - is the Norfolk resort of Great Yarmouth.

The phenomenon is highlighted in a British Weather Services report.


Typhoon kills 37 Vietnamese sailors, China rescues 330

Typhoon Chanchu has killed at least 37 Vietnamese fishermen in the South China Sea but Chinese rescue ships have saved 330 sailors, state media in the communist countries reported.

The Chinese vessels had picked up the crews of 22 ships, giving them water, food and fuel, and salvaged 21 bodies in "the largest international rescue operation at sea ever conducted by China," Chinese reports said Sunday.


5 Workers Die, 1 Escapes Ky. Mine Blast

HOLMES MILL, Ky. - An explosion in an eastern Kentucky coal mine killed five miners Saturday, Gov. Ernie Fletcher said. A sixth miner was able to walk away from the blast and out of the mine on his own.

The blast at the Darby Mine No. 1 in Harlan County occurred between midnight and 1 a.m. EDT while a maintenance shift was on duty, said Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. It was the latest in a string of mine accidents to hit U.S. coal country this year.

"We don't know the details of the cause," Fletcher told The Associated Press.


Fish killed as soft drink leaks from factory

It has become a big no-no in school lunchboxes because of its unhealthy reputation.

But it seems that Sunny D, formerly known as Sunny Delight, is not half as bad for children as it is for fish.

Around 8,000 litres of concentrate used to make the drink leaked into a watercourse on Wednesday morning, turning the river bright yellow.

Dozens of fish were found floating on the surface, poisoned by the lurid mixture.


Typhoon Chanchu kills 11, leaves 4 missing in China

Typhoon Chanchu has killed 11 people and left 4 others missing in China by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, latest government statistics show.

Meanwhile, more than one million people have been evacuated as Chanchu swept through southern Guangdong Province and southeastern Fujian Province Thursday, according to the statistics released by the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters and the Ministry of Civil Affairs.


7.6 earthquake rattles North Island overnight

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale was recorded at 10.39pm Tuesday.

The Geological & Nuclear Sciences website said the quake was at a depth of 150km and centred 800km north east of Auckland, near the Kermadec Islands. It was felt widely in the North Island and as far south as Ashburton.

GNS duty seismologist, Ken Gledhill, says the quake would have been felt as a strong rolling motion which lasted for at least half a minute.

A seismologist at Victoria University says the depth of the earthquake mitigated its impact. Professor Ewan Smith told Morning Report that the quake did not cause damage because it was so deep and so far away. He said there was also little chance of a tsunami.


Indonesia's Mount Merapi Erupts Violently

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia - Mount Merapi shot a large cloud of searing hot ash and gas into the sky Wednesday, ending two days of relative calm and underscoring the dangers still facing thousands of people living on the volcano's slopes.

Witnesses said the eruption appeared to be smaller than the mountain's most violent sputterings Monday, when ash and gas clouds surged around 2 1/2 miles from the peak and triggered panic.