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Sat, 03 Dec 2022
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Post-quake Beichuan: a vision of hell

Beichuan was a town of 160,000 nestling in one of the world's most beautiful valleys. When rescuers arrived yesterday, they found a scene of unimaginable devastation and despair

Reaching Beichuan is a long march into hell. When you finally emerge scrabbling through the dirt into the town, what lies before you is a breathtaking vision of horror. Official estimates say China's worst natural disaster in 30 years has claimed 50,000 lives so far, but looking at the devastation here, it is hard not to imagine the final toll will be much, much higher.

Beichuan county in Sichuan province used to be home to 160,000 people, and most of them lived in the now-forsaken town of the same name, nestling in one of the world's most beautiful valleys. But everyone is gone, either dead or having abandoned their flattened home.

Health

Recovery effort turned disaster for desert tortoises



tortoise
©Unknown

In an $8.7-million relocation effort, 760 California desert tortoises were moved out of an Army training center and onto safer ground. But even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. What federal biologists did not foresee was an unexpected predator: hungry coyotes. Times staff writer Louis Sahagun reports:

Ladybug

German Beehives Hit by Mass Die-Off

Beekeepers are pointing the finger at a Bayer CropScience pesticide marketed under the name Poncho, but government tests aren't conclusive

In Germany's bucolic Baden-Württemburg region, there is a curious silence this week. All up and down the Rhine river, farm fields usually buzzing with bees are quiet. Beginning late last week, helpless beekeepers could only watch as their hives were hit by an unprecedented die-off. Many say one of Germany's biggest chemical companies is to blame.

Life Preserver

Why China's buildings crumbled

Survivors blame corruption, shoddy construction and cost cutting for the collapse of so many 'tofu buildings' - and even state media outlets are asking questions

The bodies of the children were lined up in a long row in the mud of a basketball court, just outside the flattened school. Every few minutes, another corpse was brought out of the rubble, carried on a wooden door, covered in rags.


Wolf

Scientists Investigate Recent Coyote Attacks on Children in California

Los Angeles - The coyote was limping as it approached a girl in a sand box at a public park - but it was still dangerous. It snapped its jaws on the girl's buttocks and her nanny had to pry the toddler from the wild animal.

Cloud Lightning

India: Toll in Uttar Pradesh storm rises

The number of people killed in a storm in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday has risen to 94, the state's relief commissioner says.

GK Tandan told the BBC that most deaths were caused by the uprooting of trees, phone and electricity wires as well as fires and collapsing houses.

Bizarro Earth

Giant sinkhole swallows up part of Texas town

Daisetta, Texas - A large sinkhole swallowed up oil field equipment and some vehicles Wednesday in southeastern Texas and continued to grow. There were no reports of injuries or home damage.

"Right now we're not concerned about any kind of explosion or any kind of hazard," said Tom Branch, coordinator of the Liberty County Office of Emergency Management.

"We are monitoring some other things around the area to make sure everyone's OK."

Life Preserver

Over 5,500 people pulled alive from rubble in quake-hit China

Over 5,500 people have been rescued from under rubble following a devastating earthquake that hit southwest China three days ago, the Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

The quake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, was the worst to hit the country in more than three decades, and affected eight provinces, killing around 15,000 people and devastating buildings and infrastructure.

"Over 5,500 people had been pulled out alive from under rubble by 8:00 a.m. [midnight GMT] on Thursday," the agency quoted a police source as saying.

Some 25,000 people are believed to still be trapped under collapsed buildings.

Bug

Ants swarm over Houston area, fouling electronics

DALLAS - In what sounds like a really low-budget horror film, voracious swarming ants that apparently arrived in Texas aboard a cargo ship are invading homes and yards across the Houston area, shorting out electrical boxes and messing up computers.

ants
©Associated Press / David J. Phillip
'Crazy rasberry ants' are shown Tuesday, May 13, 2008, in Deer Park, Texas. The ants are throwing off the balance of nature as they feast on beneficial insects, researchers say, noting that even the hatchlings of the endangered Attwater Prairie Chicken are at risk from these omnivores. They're invading homes and shorting out electrical boxes and electronics by getting their tiny bodies wedged into the intricate equipment.

The hairy, reddish-brown creatures are known as "crazy rasberry ants" - crazy, because they wander erratically instead of marching in regimented lines, and "rasberry" after Tom Rasberry, an exterminator who did battle against them early on.

House

Chile town closed for three months after volcano

SANTIAGO - The government on Wednesday declared the evacuated Chilean town of Chaiten off-limits for three months until it is no longer threatened by a cloud of hot ash from an erupting volcano.

The Chaiten volcano, six miles from the town that had been home to 4,500 people, started erupting on May 2 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing ash, gas and molten rock into the air.

Image
©REUTERS/Stringer
A house is flooded by El Rio Blanco in Chaiten town May 12, 2008.