Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits Luzon in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits near the coast of Ecuador.

5.1 Earthquake hits Salta, Argentina.

5.0 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 05s (Bansi), located approximately 661 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, and is tracking southeastward at 08 knots.

Typhoon 01w (Mekkhala), located approximately 316 nm east-southeast of Manila, Philippines, and is tracking northwestward at 13 knots.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 06s (Chedza), located approximately 362 nm west-southwest of St Denis, and is tracking eastward at 10 knots.

NewsBytes:

Malawi Update – The death toll from floods in Malawi has risen to 176 and made 200,000 homeless with least 153 people still missing. The government has warned of the impact the floods would have on health services, fearing the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid.

Malawi flood 2015 natural disaster

Wildlife

South Australia Wildfires Kill and Injure Many Animals

Some of South Australia’s worst wildfires in 30 years killed or injured an untold number of animals earlier this month in addition to destroying at least 32 human homes and sending 100 people to hospitals.

Many surviving animals have been left without food, water or access to shelter.

Among the more heartbreaking images to come out of the firestorms near Adelaide were photos of koalas being treated for burnt paws.

The head of one animal rescue organization said that when caught in a wildfire, koalas “get to a point where they are in so much pain … they just sit at the bottom of a tree and scream.”

A public appeal for people to make mittens for the burnt marsupials was quickly heeded.

Most of the rescued koalas are expected to recover enough to be returned to the wild.

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Polar Bears Head North As Arctic Sea Ice Melts

Recent generations of polar bears have been observed moving high into the Canadian Arctic in response to climate change and the melting of Arctic sea ice.

Using DNA samples, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found that some clusters of known polar bear populations have migrated over the past 15 to 45 years to islands of the Canadian Archipelago that have more stable sea ice.

Lead researcher Elizabeth Peacock says the bears have chosen this area because it is “where the sea is more resilient to summer melt due to circulation patterns, complex geography and cooler northern latitudes.”

She and her colleagues conclude that the regions closest to the North Pole could serve as a last refuge for the bears, which need the ice to travel, forage and mate.

Arctic sea ice has declined in autumn by more than 9 percent per decade since 1979.

Climate models predict that even the northernmost parts of the Arctic will be mainly ice-free before the middle of this century.

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Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Between 3 and 5 January 2015, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) notified WHO of 3 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.

Between 7 and 10 January 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of Oman notified WHO of 2 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 1 death.

2 die of bird flu in China

Two people have died of the H7N9 strain of avian flu in China’s eastern province of Fujian, state media said on Saturday, quoting local health officials.

Fujian has confirmed 15 cases since the start of 2015, Xinhua news agency reported. It did not say when the two patients died.

Another human infection was reported in the adjacent province of Jiangxi on Friday, Xinhua said, while both the municipality of Shanghai and neighbouring Zhejiang province have reported cases “this winter”.

Cases of the virus accelerated in China in 2014, with statistics compiled by health authorities in Beijing showing 310 cases were diagnosed on the mainland from January until 10 December, including 132 deaths. Another death was recorded on 29 December.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Hunga Tonga volcano eruption creates large new island

A large new island has been formed at the eruption site between Hunga Ha’apai and Hunga Tonga, 65 km from Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said.

The volcano has been erupting from two vents, one on the uninhabited island of Hunga Ha’apai and the other underwater about 100 metres offshore. The new island is more than one kilometre wide, two kilometres long and about 100 metres high.

Hunga Ha apai Hunga Tonga volcano eruption