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Sun, 11 Jun 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


Stranded: A whale of a mystery

Scientists generally agree that sonar can trigger strandings of certain whales, but no one really knows what leads these deep divers to the beach.

Off the eastern edge of Andros Island lies the Tongue of the Ocean, a hundred-mile, inky blue swathe of sea over the Great Bahama Canyon. Bounded on the south and east by the shallow sands of the Bahamas banks, the seafloor drops precipitously from 3 meters near shore to more than 2,000 meters farther out.

While the region boasts a colorful history of pirates and shipwrecks, scientists will head there this summer seeking treasure of a different sort: beaked whales, some of the deepest diving and least known animals on Earth. The research aims to solve one of the most contentious mysteries in marine biology today  -  the relationship between military sonar and stranded, dying whales.


Four dead as rivers overflow in Japan

Heavy rain set off powerful floods and mudslides across western Japan on Monday, killing at least four people as rivers overflowed in major cities, officials said.

The rain, which resulted from a powerful typhoon that pounded Taiwan and the Philippines, led authorities to urge some 70,000 people to evacuate in the historic areas of Kyoto and Kanazawa.

A ferocious torrent gushed through Japan's sixth largest city of Kobe, sweeping bystanders off their feet and into the water.

Four people were killed -- a 29-year-old woman, girls aged 12 and 5, and a 10-year-old boy. Another three people were rescued and rushed to hospital, a city official said.

Television footage showed a man wearing a helmet, apparently a construction worker, holding onto a stone bridge column in a desperate effort not to be swept away by the flash flooding.

Cloud Lightning

500,000 evacuated in China as typhoon nears

Beijing -- At least 500,000 people have been evacuated or returned to port in eastern and southern China as Typhoon Fung-wong bore down on the coast, state media reported on Monday.

Xinhua news agency said the typhoon was expected to make landfall on the coast of China's Fujian province in the early hours of Tuesday after it left one dead and six injured in Taiwan.

Authorities in Fujian had already ordered the return to shore of more than 270,000 people to their fishing communities in advance of the storm, Xinhua said.

In neighbouring Zhejiang, 230,000 people had been evacuated and more than 26,000 boats had returned to shore, it said.


Lightning Sparks Blaze at Fire-Plagued Complex in Massachusetts, US

For the third time in a little over a year, residents of a Peabody apartment complex were forced to flee as their flame- plagued complex caught fire again. A three-alarm blaze broke out on the roof of a building at the Highlands at Dearborn yesterday after a lightning bolt struck.

"I feel stupid for not moving out," said Kristina DiLorenzo, 25, who called 911.

DiLorenzo said she can't return to her place and will spend the night in a hotel. "I don't know what I'm going to do yet," she added.


Lightning Sparks New Fires in British Columbia, Canada

Lightning ignited 22 new fires in the Prince George Fire Centre yesterday and more are expected due to the continued risk of lightning.

Additional fire fighting crews from around the province have arrived in the region to help with existing fires and expected lightning-caused fires. Two additional unit crews, comprising a total of 40 firefighters, are available for sustained action on larger fires. Five additional three-person initial attack crews are also standing by to respond to smaller fires and new fire starts.

Cloud Lightning

US: 300 evacuated from flooding in Ruidoso, New Mexico area

©Ruidoso News
Flood waters destroying yards and fences of homes at River Ranch RV Park, along Highway 70 between Glencoe and Ruidoso Downs, N.M.

Ruidoso - About 300 people were evacuated from homes, campgrounds and a recreational vehicle park Sunday after flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Dolly. Two people were reported missing in the water.

Meteorologists said more than 6 inches of rain fell in the mountainous area, and flash flood watches were in effect for central and eastern New Mexico.

The Rio Ruidoso went over its banks about midnight, said Tom Schafer, Ruidoso's emergency management coordinator.

"Water's just going everywhere," Schafer said.

Ruidoso police took reports of the two being swept away in separate incidents after apparently losing their footing near the river, said Ruidoso's emergency management coordinator, Tom Schafer. He didn't have additional details.

State officials estimated more than 60 homes have been damaged.

Cloud Lightning

Typhoon nears Taiwan, markets to close

Taipei -- A typhoon in the Pacific Ocean with wind gusts of 173 kph was on course to hit Taiwan late on Sunday, prompting local governments, including Taipei, to cancel work and classes on Monday and close markets.

©REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
People walk in light rain as Typhoon Fung-Wong approaches, in Taipei July 27, 2008.

Typhoon Fung-Wong, Chinese for phoenix, was moving northwest on Sunday evening, on course to make landfall early Monday in central Taiwan, with sustained winds of 137 kph, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said on its website.

The approaching storm prompted the issue of rough sea warnings as most local city and county governments announced late in the day that offices and schools would be closed on Monday. That also meant the stock and foreign exchange markets would close for the day.

Cloud Lightning

South Texas gets first look at Dolly's damage

Texas Dolly flood
©AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Dulce Martinez, left, and her boyfriend Adrian Palomares walk through a flooded street to their house after Hurricane Dolly, Thursday, July 24, 2008, in San Benito, Texas.

Brownsville, Texas - Residents and recovery teams began fanning out across south Texas Thursday and cars crept along roads with darkened stoplights as the region got its first look at the destruction left by Hurricane Dolly.

Traffic picked up on local roads littered with debris as people emerged for the first time in more than 24 hours after Dolly's soaking rains and punishing winds. After crashing ashore on South Padre Island, the storm ripped roofs from homes, flooded roads and downed power lines, but the Rio Grande levees officials had feared could breach held strong.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning zap traveled through head, couch, wife in New Zealand

Mark Woodhead
©Mark Dwyer / Taranaki Daily News
Mike Woodhead with his lightning-zapped computer gear after the weekend strike.

Next time Taranaki man Mike Woodhead uses his computer he'll get a weather forecast first. A bolt of lightning which struck near his Ohangai home south-east of Hawera on Saturday night has put the 36-year-old local school caretaker on edge.

He was using the family computer with earphones on, his daughter Leah standing next to him, when there was a huge flash in the middle of a storm.

"I felt a shock which was 20 times worse than an electric fence pulse," he said. "I felt it hit my heart. I was worried it might stop beating," the Tiri Rd man said. "It went through me, through the couch and into my wife Ellen who was sitting on the couch."


Piglet born with "monkey's face"

Piglet Monkey

Curious locals flocked to the home of owner Feng Changlin after news of the piglet spread in Fengzhang village, Xiping township.

"It's hideous. No one will be willing to buy it, and it scares the family to even look at it!" Feng told Oriental Today. He says the piglet looks just like a monkey, with two thin lips, a small nose and two big eyes. Its rear legs are also much longer than its forelegs, causing it to jump instead of walk.

Feng's wife said the monkey-faced piglet was one of five newborns of a sow which the family had raised for nine years. "My God, it was so scary. I didn't known what it was. I was really frightened," she said. "But our son likes to play with it, and he stopped us from getting rid of it. He even feeds it milk."

Neighbours have suggested the couple keep the piglet to see how it looks as it matures.