Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

6.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.4 Earthquake hits Coquimbo, Chile.

5.3 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.2 Earthquake hits offshore Antofagasta, Chile.

5.2 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.2 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical depression 05w (five) is located approximately 629 nm east-southeast of Koror, and is tracking northwestward at 08 knots.

NewsBytes:

Solomon Islands – Flash flooding killed at least three people and left 10,000 homeless in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara, with another 30 missing.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit (47.0 degrees Celsius) at Wadi, Addawasir, Saudi Arabia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 82.7 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 63.7 degrees Celsius) at America’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole 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.

Wildlife

New Whale Stranding Is Painful Evidence for Naval Sonar Risks

On April 1, while the U.S. and other navies played war games somewhere offshore, Cuvier’s beaked whales began stranding along the southern coast of Crete. Those on the scene knew right away what they were dealing with, for the strandings were only the most recent in a line of similar calamities in the region, going back two decades. And in this case, as in the previous ones, all signs pointed to the U.S. Navy and its allies.

Cuvier’s beaked whales are a remarkable species. They have the deepest recorded dives of all marine mammals, some descending an astonishing 9,500 feet (3,000 meters) below the water’s surface before coming up for air. Favoring deep water, they don’t strand nearly as often as coastal species, and they don’t strand in large numbers, and they don’t strand New Whale Stranding Is Painful Evidence for Naval Sonar Risksalive.

Yet, that is exactly what happened on April 1. Beginning around noon, three Cuvier’s beaked whales came ashore in one spot along the Cretan coast, two others beached some 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) further west, and two more turned up another mile or two from there. All were alive when they stranded; rescuers managed to return most to the water, but, based on past experience, biologists in the region fear that they stranded again or perished at sea.

For the last week, the U.S., Greek and Israeli navies have been running a joint military exercise off Crete known as Operation Noble Dina. The exercise includes anti-submarine warfare training, which requires the use of high-powered military sonar.

Each of these events is tragic in its way, but this one feels particularly cruel. Just last year, the Scientific Committee of the Agreement for the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black and Mediterranean Seas (ACCOBAMS), drew a map where sonar training should be avoided. One area on the map is off southeastern Crete — exactly where the new mass stranding occurred — around a highly sensitive marine area known as the Hellenic trench. But Greece fought the recommendation, and it wasn’t adopted.

Now experts are despairing that, with stranding after stranding, the region’s beaked whale populations are being decimated.

Beaked whales that have died from sonar exposure — at least the ones recovered in time for investigation — have suffered from a suite of severe, telltale pathologies, similar to those seen in decompression sickness, or the bends. Sonar is believed to kill them by disrupting their dive patterns. The ones that reach shore are considered the tip of an iceberg.

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Environment

English Smog Worsened by Cloud of Sahara Dust

Parts of England were blanketed with record high levels of choking smog, which was worsened by a plume of dust that blew into the country from the Sahara Desert.

Many motorists awoke to find their vehicles coated with the red dust.

Smog reached the top of the official 10-point scale of air pollution in Norfolk, the East Midlands and Yorkshire.

Greater London suffered with smog that reached level 7.

People with heart or respiratory conditions were urged to avoid exertion and remain indoors and to see their doctors if symptoms worsened.

The environment department said the smog was caused by pollution from Britain and industrialized areas of neighboring Europe that stayed in place because of light winds, along with the Sahara dust.

Southeast England had the highest concentrations of smog brought on by light winds, pollution and Sahara dust.

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Disease

Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Guinea – Summary

WHO is supporting the national authorities in the response to an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD; formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever). The outbreak is now confirmed to be caused by a strain of ebolavirus with very close homology (98%) to the Zaire ebolavirus. This is the first time the disease has been detected in West Africa. Cases were first reported from forested areas in south-eastern Guinea. The outbreak has rapidly evolved and several districts and Conakry have reported cases and deaths caused by EVD. A small number of suspected cases and deaths has also been reported from neighbouring countries with all of them having crossed from Guinea. Confirmed cases have been reported from Guinea and Liberia.

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – update

On 31 March 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of three additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

New Cholera Outbreak in Nigeria

A fresh cholera outbreak in Bassa and Jos North local government areas of Plateau State have left no fewer than six persons dead and 113 others hospitalised.