Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.9 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.6 Earthquake hits the Guadeloupe region in the Leeward Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

5.1 Earthquake hits south of New Zealand.

5.1 Earthquake hits the north Indian Ocean.

5.1 Earthquake hits off the east coast of North Island, New Zealand.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Mozambique – Five people have died in floods in the capital Maputo, after days of torrential rain, according to Mozambican authorities. Five homes were also swept away by floodwater. Mudslides have damaged roads, making it difficult to reach affected areas. The water was waist-high as people were forced to evacuate their homes, carrying as many of their belongings as they could.

Environment

Oil Spill Blackens Parts of Southern Israel

A massive oil spill near an Israeli nature preserve has become the worst environmental disaster in that country’s history.

More than 1.3 million gallons of crude oil polluted an area near the Gulf of Aqaba port of Eilat after a break occurred earlier this month in the 153-mile Trans-Israel pipeline.

More than 80 people in the area were hospitalized from inhaling benzene fumes generated by evaporation of the oil.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) says it has attempted to keep birds from the spill area, but warns it could take years for all of the pollution to be removed.

“We don’t have experience with something of this scale,” said INPA spokeswoman Tali Tenenbaum. Her agency warned that any rainfall could quickly spread the disaster.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Fogo (Cape Verde): It seems that after a short period of quietening down (9-14 December) the Fogo eruption has regained its strength. This confirms our earlier report of increased emission of sulphur dioxide thought to indicate the rise of a new magma batch.

After nearly 20 years of inactivity, the Pico de Fogo awakened with a violent flank eruption on the 23rd of November 2014. In less than 4 weeks , this eruption has devastated local communities and caused a humanitarian crisis as it forced 1500 local people to flee and it is likely that another 2000 will have to move to temporary shelters. Media coverage of this natural disaster has so far been remarkably small despite the fact that it is Fogo’s largest volcanic eruption in decades, causing more damage to nearby settlements, and in a shorter time, than the 1995 eruption.

Gamalama (Halmahera): The volcano, one of the most active in the region, erupted unexpectedly last night (Thursday evening, 22:41 local time).

Unfortunately, it seems that the eruption claimed at least some victims: Several people (10-12 according to varying news reports) were on the volcano, a popular hiking destination, when the initial explosion occurred at night. At least two of them were reported missing, presumably killed, and several others wounded, mainly from injuries suffered when falling during their escape.