Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

7.2 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

No tsunami warning was issued and no damage is expected. This is the third 7.0+ quake this month – 7.0 Papua Indonesia on 6/04/2013 and 7.8 Iran/Pakistan on 16/04/2013.

5.7 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.5 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.3 Earthquake hits the southwestern Ryukyu Islands off Japan.

5.3 Earthquake hits the southern east Pacific rise.

5.1 Earthquake hits Honduras.

Storms and Floods

Storm in Kolkata, India

Storm in Kolkata, India has claimed the lives of three people including a three-year-old girl. The storms disrupted the flight services at NSC Bose International airport. Several local trains from Howrah station were also cancelled or delayed.

Flooding in Chicago

Flash flood emergency has been declared in Chicago. Four to six inches of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours over most of Northern Illinois.

Heavy rain and flooding opened a large sinkhole in Chicago. The sinkhole injured one person and swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on the Southeast Side of Chicago.

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Tornado in Butler, Oklahoma

An EF-2 tornado touched down in Butler, Oklahoma, injuring one person.

Flooding in Uppsala, Sweden

Dozens of houses are reported to be flooded in Uppsala, Sweden. The Fyrisån river has risen by more than 20cm.

Environment

Indonesian rainforest to be open for business

The Indonesian government has said it aims to approve within a month a plan that would free up vast swathes of protected virgin rainforest on Sumatra island for commercial exploitation.

Rights groups reacted with outrage at the news that the plan, which also needs to be passed by the Aceh provincial parliament, was making progress, saying it would only benefit huge foreign companies and not the area’s people. But Canadian mining company East Asia Minerals, which conducts gold exploration in Aceh, hailed the progress as “positive news for mineral extraction in the area”. The government aimed to approve the plan “in up to a month”. Rights groups say it will free up around 1.2 million hectares (three million acres) to be cleared.

The head of the Aceh parliamentary committee overseeing the project said it had a lot of support in the legislature. “We hope it will go through as soon as possible.” Approval of the plan would open up the forest, on the northern tip of Sumatra province and home to critically endangered orangutans, rhinos, and elephants, for mining, paper and palm oil plantations.

The Aceh government banned the granting of new logging permits six years ago to protect the forest, but a new administration that came in last year is in favour of allowing logging again.

Wildlife

Tanzania Dolphin Slaughter Linked to Shark Fin Trade

Local fishermen in coastal Tanzania are killing dolphins to be used as bait for sharks. The high demand for shark fin soup is causing an alarming rise in the killing of dolphins off the coast of Tanzania, which an official says fishermen use illegally as bait for the predatory fish.

Most dolphins have been protected by the country’s fisheries regulations since 2009.

Tourists have reported seeing the “distressing” killing of dolphins within plain sight.

Dolphins are being actively targeted by dynamite fishermen around the city of Dar es Salaam because “their flesh makes a very good bait for sharks.”

While the slaughter of dolphins to feed the illicit shark fin market is disturbing to many, researchers recently warned that as many as one in 15 of all sharks on the planet are fished from the oceans each year.

The trend threatens to put the species on the path to extinction.

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Environment

Global Hottest and Coldest Temperatures for the Week

The week’s hottest temperature was 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit (47.0 degrees Celsius) at Matam, Senegal.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 94.5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70.3 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Antarctic research station.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): The activity continued throughout the night and the lava flow has reached the sea at the base of the Sciara del Fuoco. A new larger lava flow from the NE vent has started this afternoon to descend the Sciara del Fuoco, accompanied by glowing rockfalls and strong tremor. The eruption was preceded by very large strombolian explosions during the morning.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): It seems likely that another paroxysm is in the making at the New SE crater: Strombolian explosions have continued throughout the night and this morning, and have been intensifying. Lava seems to have appeared at several vents on the fissure cutting through the New SE crater and the tremor signal is steeply rising.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): (17 Apr) Activity has dropped a bit but remains essentially unchanged. CENPRED reported 1-2 emissions of steam and minor ash amounts per hour today, a steam and gas plume rising up to 1 km as well as continuing glow at the crater.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): (17 Apr) Strong degassing and minor ash venting continue creating a plume reaching 1000 m above the crater today. The seismic swarm has decreased in strength, but goes on.