SINGAPORE (Reuters) – An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, the United States Geological Survey reported.The USGS said the quake’s epicentre was 47 miles west-southwest of the island state’s capital Bougainville and 36.2 miles deep. (Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
Quake in central Philippines—The death toll from an earthquake in the Philippines rose to 144 on Wednesday as rescuers dug through the rubble of collapsed buildings including an old church and a hospital.Nearly 3 million people were affected by the 7.2 magnitude quake on Tuesday, which caused landslides and widespread damage to infrastructure in the tourist destinations of Bohol island and the nearby Cebu islands. (Reuters)Hide thumbnails1 – 8 of 29 1 of 29 photosNextpreviousnext Photo By ERIK DE CASTRO/REUTERS 5 hours ago A resident looks out from the window of his family’s house, that fell into a river after an earthquake, in Buenavista, Bohol a day after an earthquake hit central Philippines October 16, 2013. The death toll from a Philippine earthquake rose to 107 on Wednesday, as rescuers dug through the rubble of a church and a hospital in search of more victims. (REUTERS/Erik De Castro)
Typhoon and mudslides in Japan–A typhoon caused deadly mudslides that buried people and destroyed homes on a Japanese island Wednesday before sweeping up the Pacific coast, grounding hundreds of flights and disrupting Tokyo’s transportation during the morning rush. At least 14 deaths were reported and more than 50 people were missing.Hardest hit was Izu Oshima island about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Tokyo. Rescuers found 13 bodies, most of them buried by mudslides, police and town officials said. Dozens of homes were destroyed, and more than 50 people are missing. „We have no idea how bad the extent of damage could be,” town official Hinani Uematsu said. (AP)Hide thumbnails1 – 8 of 11 1 of 11 photosNextpreviousnext Photo By KYODO/REUTERS 4 hours ago Firefighters search for missing people among collapsed houses following a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha on Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo October 16, 2013. A typhoon killed 17 people in Japan on Wednesday, most on an offshore island, but largely spared the capital and caused no new disaster as it brushed by the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power station, the plant’s operator said. (REUTERS/Kyodo)
By Jatindra Dash BHUBANESWAR, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Thousands of people were left stranded by floods on Tuesday as the powerful cyclone which pounded the east coast over the weekend moved inland, bringing heavy rains and hindering rescue and relief operations, aid workers and officials said.Cyclone Phailin, India’s fiercest storm in 14 years, smashed into the coastline of Odisha on Saturday, inundating large swathes of farmland, ripping apart mud-and-thatch homes and disrupting power and telecoms services.Even as Phailin weakened while moving across the country from the Bay of Bengal, its incessant rains caused major rivers and tributaries to overflow, submerging villages and stranding thousands of people, aid agency officials said.”Along the coast, we experienced the cyclonic winds which have left millions of people in need of emergency aid. Now the rains are flooding other parts and we have to respond there,” said Mangla Mohanty, head of the Indian Red Cross in Odisha.”It’s very challenging. Those affected by flooding are equally vulnerable and we have to stretch our resources and ensure all those that need help get it.”More than 250,000 people were stranded on Monday when rivers broke their embankments and swamped large tracts of land in districts such as Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak.Many areas were inaccessible by road, forcing emergency teams to use boats to rescue people and deliver relief supplies. Helicopters dropped dry food packets to marooned survivors, many of whom had taken refuge from six-feet-deep water on the rooftops of buildings.”About 20,000 people still remained marooned here. More people are likely to be affected as the waters may flood more areas,” said Balasore Revenue Divisional Commissioner Arabinda Kumar Padhee. „The situation remains grim.”Five people were killed by the floods in Odisha and seven in the neighbouring state of Bihar, which is on high alert after experiencing incessant rains. The total death toll from Phailin now stands at 33.Authorities in Bihar said the constant rain of the past 36 hours had disrupted road and rail services and led to power blackouts in some parts of the state.”We have issued an alert across the state and directed the district magistrates (administrative heads) to be ready with rescue teams,” said Vyasji, Bihar’s disaster management secretary.(Additional reporting by Nita Bhalla in NEW DELHI and Manoj Chaurasia in PATNA; writing by Nita Bhalla)
Lightning is one of those natural phenomena that’s really best experienced from a distance, unless you happen to have a Faraday cage handy. However, as professional angler Tucker K. Owings found out over the weekend, if you’re lucky enough to see it up close and come away unscathed, the experience can be pretty spectacular.Owings was out on Lake Athens, located just to the southeast of Dallas, Texas, when a fast-moving storm rolled over the lake before he could make it back to shore. The lightning bolt only lasts for about two seconds, but you can see it (especially in the slow-motion part of the video) strike about five or six times as it plays across the water in front of Owings’ boat.[ More Geekquinox: New toxin is so deadly, scientists refuse to make details public ]As cool as the video is, Owings is lucky to have come away unharmed. There’s no telling exactly why the storm clouds chose that specific spot to discharge the lightning, or whether Owings’ position on the water would have made any difference to it. However, it’s scary to think that if he’d just left for shore a little bit earlier, or if the storm had been moving just a little bit faster, this might have been a much different, and far-less cool kind of story.Happy fishing, Tucker!Geek out with the latest in science and weather.Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!
View GalleryTyphoon and mudslides in JapanView PhotoRocks are seen in a residential area following a landslide caused by Typhoon Wipha …View PhotoA man struggles against strong wind and rain caused by approaching Typhoon Wipha …By Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) – A typhoon killed 17 people in Japan on Wednesday, most on an offshore island, but largely spared the capital and caused no new disaster as it brushed by the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power station, the plant’s operator said.More than 50 people were missing after the „once in a decade” Typhoon Wipha roared up Japan’s east coast. About 20,000 people were told to leave their homes because of the danger of flooding and hundreds of flights were cancelled.Sixteen people were killed on Izu Oshima island, about 120 km (75 miles) south of Tokyo, as rivers burst their banks. The storm set off mudslides along a 2 km (1.2 mile) stretch of mountains.Television footage showed roads clogged with wreckage and houses with gaping holes smashed into them.”I heard a crackling sound and then the trees on the hillside all fell over,” a woman on Izu Oshima told NHK television.The storm brought hurricane-force winds and drenching rain to the Tokyo metropolitan area of 30 million people at the peak of the morning rush hour.A woman was swept away by a swollen river in western Tokyo and more than 50 people were missing, the government said, including two schoolboys engulfed by waves on a beach.About 20 people were hurt by falls or being struck by flying debris.The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Corp , cancelled all offshore work and secured machinery as the storm approached.RAIN PUMPED OUT–The operator, known as Tepco, has been struggling to contain radioactive leaks since a 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused extensive damage and triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.A Tepco spokesman said Typhoon Wipha had caused no new problems at the plant, which is on the coast 220 km (130 miles) north of Tokyo.The storm dumped heavy rain and it had to be pumped out of protective containers at the base of about 1,000 tanks storing radioactive water, the by-product of a jerry-rigged cooling system designed to control wrecked reactors.The rainwater was checked for radioactivity and released into the sea, the company spokesman said.Wipha was down-graded to a tropical depression by 0700 GMT. It was off the coast of northeastern Japan and moving northeast at 95 kph (59 mph), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.At its height, it had sustained winds at its centre of 126 kph (78 mph) and gusts of up to 180 kph (112 mph).More than 500 flights at Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports were cancelled, and thousands of schools closed. Bullet train services were halted but resumed by Wednesday afternoon.Typhoon Wipha was the strongest storm to hit the region since October 2004. That cyclone triggered floods and landslides that killed almost 100 people, forced thousands from their homes and caused billions of dollars in damage.(Additional reporting by Chris Meyers, Billy Mallard and Antoni Slodkowski and Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Robert Birsel)
LOON, Philippines – The earthquake that struck the central Philippines and killed at least 144 people also dealt a serious blow to the region’s historical and religious legacy by heavily damaging a dozen or more churches, some of them hundreds of years old.As rescuers reached some of the hardest hit areas on Wednesday and the death toll from the quake a day earlier continued to rise, images of the wrecked religious buildings resonated across a nation where 80 per cent of the population is Catholic.The bell tower toppled from Cebu city’s 16th-century Basilica of the Holy Child — a remnant of the Spanish colonial era and the country’s oldest church building — becoming a pile of rubble in the courtyard by the front gate.Other churches on the neighbouring island of Bohol, epicenter of the quake and a popular tourist destination known for its beaches, were also damaged, some beyond repair.”The heritage old churches are also very close to the hearts of the Boholanos,” said Bohol Gov. Edgardo Chatto, using the term for residents of the island.He said authorities would attempt to restore the historic churches, but some may never return to their former state.”Every piece of the church should be left untouched so that restoration efforts can be easier,” he said. „It may not be a total restoration, but closest to what it used to be before.”Emilia Dalagan was sweeping grass outside her home near the 300-year-old church called Our Lady of the Assumption Shrine in Dauis on the resort island of Panglao, near Bohol, when the ground shook.”The funeral car was crushed by falling debris from the front of the church. The driver was able to get out,” she said.The back, front and the right wing of the church were destroyed. The structure is said to be made from corals cemented together with egg white.Tuesday was a national holiday in the Philippines, incidentally celebrating the Muslim feast of Eid ul Adha, which meant some of the most damaged structures, like schools and office buildings, were empty when the quake struck, which saved many lives.”That is our only consolation,” said Bohol’s provincial health officer Reymoses Cabagnot.Gay Flores had just woken up in her two-story house in the town of Carmen when the 7.2-magnitude quake struck at 8:15 a.m., sending shock waves across the picturesque island —and knocking her off her feet.”I crawled down to our kitchen because my mother and nephews were there,” she said. „Then we crawled out of the house.”The roof of their house had caved in and the cement walls had collapsed, but she was alive, and so were her parents.”We left everything behind,” Flores said by phone from the Bohol town of Carmen. „Belongings don’t matter as long as we can save our lives.”A day after the quake, Gov. Chatto said that all towns in need had been reached, although landslides and damaged bridges were slowing down road travel. Only two of the island’s 20 bridges were passable.”The towns that needed help have been reached. The most heavily hit in terms of casualties was the town of Loon, and there are still ongoing processes there, of recovery,” he said.President Benigno Aquino III and senior Cabinet members came to offer their support Wednesday and distribute relief aid and inspect the damage firsthand. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said that the bridges would be repaired within weeks.Amazingly, the town of Carmen, the quake epicenter, did not record one single death. The hardest-hit areas were along Bohol’s western coast.Senior Inspector Jacinto Mandal, the police chief in Loon, was sitting in his office drawing up a plan for the upcoming village election when the quake hit.”It was really strong. It was as if something was really moving underground,” Mandal said. „We fell to the ground from the force of the shaking. If you attempt to stand, you would topple.”Running outside, he saw cracks open in the street and people were screaming and crying. He told them to gather outside the municipal hall.He found the mayor, who was shaken but alive, and they proceeded to the church, only to find it reduced to rubble. Two bodies were pulled out Wednesday.After reaching the collapsed church, he and the priest escorted the people away to a more open area.”We still have no electricity,” he said. „As of this time, the people use firewood to cook.”