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Earthweek - A Diary of the Planet
Tropical Storm Flood Record Sino Pollution Chinese Rat Plague Camel Hazard Avalanche Eruption Eruption High Temperature Extreme Somali Lion Attacks Earthquake Earthquake Earthquake Earthquake Earthquake Earthquake Earthquake Earthquake Low Temperature Extreme Click on any icon for more information

By Steve Newman - February 12, 1999 - Click on any icon 

High temperature

High Temperature Extreme

Low temperature

Low Temperature Extreme

Record Sino Pollution
Tropical Storm
Tropical Storm
Fierce Floods
Alpine Avalanches
China Rat Plague
Camel Hazard

High Temperature Extreme
High temperatureVioolsdrift, South Africa: 110 degrees Fahrenheit


Low Temperature Extreme
Low temperatureYst-Yvdoma, Siberia: -72 degrees Fahrenheit


Record Sino Pollution
PoisonA record level of water pollution on Chinaís Yellow River is threatening the already low supply of drinking water along the countryís second-longest waterway.

The Xinhua news agency reported that nearly 20 percent of the 3,400-mile river has been subjected to heavy pollution, prompting officials to rely solely on reservoirs for drinking water. Huge amounts of waste flowing into the Yellow River from tributaries in northern Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces have contributed to the growing contamination. Climate change in the headwaters of the river is also threatening to dry up the waterway along some of its upper stretches.


EruptionsToxic gases emitted during another eruption of Mexicoís Vulcan de Fuego prompted officials to evacuate more than 100 residents from around the mountainís flanks. The 12,500-foot volcano discharged a cloud of smoke and ash three miles high into the skies of western Mexico along the border of Jalisco and Mexico states.

Sicilyís Mount Etna spewed another burst of ash and lava as scientists announced they had discovered a new crack along one side of its crater. International experts discovered the fracture on the craterís southeastern flank soon after lava began flowing down Etnaís slopes. The crack apparently means the crater is changing shape.


Tropical Storm
Tropical StormTropical cyclone Rona formed over the warm waters of the Coral Sea and threatened to strike Australiaís Queensland coast at the weekend.

A cyclone watch was in effect for coastal and island communities between Cape Tribulation and Ayr.


Fierce Floods
FloodsThe highest flood waters to strike Australiaís eastern Queensland coast in 100 years swept four people to their deaths and inundated homes and businesses in the city of Gympie.

Severe flooding and mudslides in the southern Philippines killed at least 20 people and forced more than 400,000 others from their homes on the island of Mindanao.


Alpine Avalanches
AvalanchesAt least 10 people were killed in the French Alps when a huge avalanche crashed down on the village of Le Tour, pulverizing a group of chalets.

The disaster was only one of several snow slides that blocked rail and road links across the Alpine region. Austrian army helicopters were dispatched to bring relief and food supplies to the 25,000 motorists and residents who became stranded due to snowbound mountain roads.


EarthquakeThe most powerful earthquake so far this year struck a remote region of the Pacific Ocean near the Solomon Islands. There were no reports of injuries or damage from the magnitude 7.3 temblor.

Earth movements were also felt in Sumatra, southern Japan, Russiaís Kamchatka Peninsula, western Greece, northern Italy, western Colombia and in southern and western parts of Mexico.


China Rat Plague
RatA rat disaster warning went into effect in the northern Chinese region of Ningxia as the areaís burgeoning rat population is poised to once again devour millions of pounds of grain.

Last year, 92 million pounds of grain were lost due to the infestation. An estimated 576,000 acres of farmland were ravaged in 1997 by the rodents. The rats are known to store stolen grain for the winter months, prompting local residents to dig for the buried caches of grain. Experts predict that the rat plague will continue to grow due to the decline of the rodentsí natural predators, such as cats, foxes, snakes and eagles.


Camel Hazard
CamelA camel is blamed for causing a car accident that killed five people on a Saudi Arabian highway.

The animal, which had already been struck and injured while wandering on the country's Taef-Riyadh highway, loomed up in front of a second vehicle, causing it to swerve into an oncoming car. Wandering camels are a growing problem for motorists in Gulf countries. Official statistics show that an average of five people die every month in accidents caused by camels in Saudi Arabia alone.


Additional Sources: Japan Meteorological Agency, U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the World Meteorological Organization.

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Earthweek - A Diary of the Planet