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Earthweek - A Diary of the Planet
Deer Flood Cyclone Mudslide Turtle Volcano Earthquake Earthquake Earthquake High Temperature Extreme Low Temperature Extreme Click on any icon for more information
By Steve Newman - November 12, 1999 - Click any icon

High TemperatureLow Temperature
Temperature Extremes

Flood Disaster

Temperature Extremes
High TemperatureLow TemperatureHigh temperature extreme:
Boa Vista, Brazil 104 degrees.

Low temperature extreme:
Verhoyansk, Siberia -73 degrees.


Ongoing Eruptions
VolcanoTwo of Ecuador’s active volcanoes, Tungurahua and Guagua Pichincha, resumed threatening activity, causing officials to suspend school for more than 400,000 students in the capital of Quito.

Tungurahua roared back to life and spewed rocks and ash for more than an hour in the south of the country. Witnesses reported that incandescent boulders the size of automobiles were thrown out of the mountain and broke apart when they hit the ground. Vulcanologists in Quito said that Guagua Pichincha, located 7 miles from the capital, had gathered a higher level of blocked energy than it had during the Oct. 7 eruption. Communities located close to the mountain continue to be evacuated. Experts said that Guagua Pichincha is in the process of a prolonged eruption that could last for months or even years.


Tropical Cyclones
CycloneTropical storm Frankie lashed the central Philippines, forcing the evacuation of at least 300 families marooned by floods in low-lying districts of the city of Calbayog. The storm later lost force over the South China Sea.

The official death toll from cyclone 05B, which battered India’s coastal state of Orissa on Oct. 29, rose to an estimated 8,000. Red Cross disaster workers predicted that it would climb past 10,000 with more bodies being recovered as the flood waters receded.


Vietnamese Flood Disaster
FloodAt least 527 people in central Vietnam have been killed or left missing after six days of incessant rains triggered the worst flooding in the country for a century.

Seven provinces that stretch from the ancient city of Hue to China Beach, and are home to seven million people, were devastated by the floods. Many of the survivors have been subsisting on little more than rainwater. Officials said that 500,000 homes were flooded and 5,723 schools destroyed.


EarthquakeLate reports from northern China say that at least 20,500 people were left homeless by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that shook the hilly farming areas of Shanxi and Hebei provinces on Nov. 1.

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake destroyed numerous homes and awakened sleeping residents of northeastern Colombia’s Santander Province.

Earth movements were also felt in southern Mexico, the western Mediterranean, northwestern Turkey, eastern Romania, northeastern Iran, Afghanistan’s Hindukush mountain range and various points in Japan.


Peruvian Landslide
MudslideAt least 46 people were buried alive in Peru when an avalanche of mud and rock engulfed parts of the Andean community of Tacabamba, 500 miles north of the capital city of Lima.

Residents in the area reported that they heard an explosion and saw a large cloud of smoke with a sulfur-like smell moments before the mudslide. The slides were apparently caused by recent heavy rains seeping through the soil and coming into contact with superheated, sulfurous underground thermal springs.


Hawaii Deer Crisis
DeerThe exploding population of deer on Hawaii’s island of Molokai is rapidly creating an ecological disaster, according to island residents.

Ongoing dry weather has depleted the deer’s food source and forced the animals to forage in residential gardens or anywhere they can find food. The deer squeeze through fences and eat whatever grass and plants they come across. Staff at the Kalaupapa National Historical Park tried hunting the deer, but there was public protest about the noise as well as safety concerns. The population of deer around the community of Kalaupapa has burgeoned to several hundred and to several thousand on the Kalawao Peninsula and in Waikolu Valley.


Lonesome George
TurtleA 650-pound giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands, nicknamed “Lonesome George,” has routinely been rejecting all offers of a mate, and scientists now think they know why.

The Darwin Research Station had lined up numerous partners from nearby islands for the lonely tortoise, but he turned up his nose at all of them. A team from Yale University gathered DNA from stuffed turtles captured in 1906 from Pinta Island where Lonesome George lives. The results of the tests showed that the tortoise was much more closely related to a species from the distant islands of San Cristobal and Espanola. The scientists concluded that the huge turtle needs a mate from the faraway islands with closer genetic affinities. They plan to soon import a suitable bride that will hopefully be more to George’s liking.


Additional Sources: Japan Meteorological Agency, U.S. Climate Analysis Center,
U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the World Meteorological Organization.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
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