Archive | August 13, 2014

Intense strombolian activity and lava flows from New SE crater at Etna volcano in Italy

Strong strombolian explosions in rapid succession and lava effusion continue from the New SE crater with little variation during the past days. An ash plume is rising a few 100 m. Tremor has dropped a bit yesterday, but remains elevated. 
Whether Etna is heading towards a true paroxysm with lava fountains is unclear, but if the new phase of activity is similar to the previous episodes, it might continue the same type of activity at fluctuating levels for a while and then fade. 
The lava flow’s main branch, issued from a fissure vent at the upper eastern rim of the NSEC, is headed to the northeast and has now a length of approx. 2 km. Its wide active front has reached the base of the Valle del Bove. Two secondary arms divide from the main flow and are flowing more to the east towards the break in slope into the Valle del Bove east of the NSEC (s. thermal image). 
This new activity at the New SE crater had started on 9 August and gradually intensified until Monday, then dropped a bit and has been stagnating since. 
Along with the appearance of lava at the NSEC, the explosive-effusive activity from the vents at the eastern base of the NE crater, which had continued through the past weeks, gradually waned and ceased on 10 or 11 Aug.

Deadly Ebola Virus; Saudi Arabia takes steps to guard against Ebola virus

Ebola Virus
The Saudi government is taking steps to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Ebola virus, which has a case fatality rate of up to 90% and causes muscular pains, fever, headaches and in some cases, internal and external haemorrhaging.
The kingdom has taken preventative measures to stop the virus entering from the West African countries where most cases have been recorded, in addition to tightening its measures countrywide and at border crossings.
World Health Organisation (WHO) procedures require that blood samples be sent to international laboratories to ascertain the diagnosis in the event of fatalities, said Dr. Waheed Abdul Majeed, an infectious diseases specialist at a state hospital in Jeddah.
By following these steps, “we can inspect the status of the virus to see whether it has changed or remained as it was observed in African countries”, he said.
The Saudi Ministry of Health followed this procedure last week after a Saudi man died while showing symptoms similar to Ebola, Abdul Majeed said. The man tested negative for the virus.
In the event of a suspected fatality from the virus, the kingdom creates a timeline of all the areas the deceased visited and the people with whom he came into contact, the doctor said. These people will then undergo compulsory and detailed medical tests to make sure they are virus-free.
Infection occurs through direct contact with the blood or bodily secretions of an infected person, he said.
The WHO announced an emergency plan to contain the virus after the first case was recorded in Guinea on February 9th. Since then, the number of confirmed Ebola cases has reached 1,779 with 961 deaths, based on the latest WHO figures.
In an August 8th statement, the WHO said an emergency committee that convened to discuss the outbreak in West Africa had unanimously agreed that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern have been met.
“Although the International Air Transport Association has not yet placed restrictions on travel due to the Ebola virus, Saudi Arabia has taken several precautions to avoid a catastrophic outbreak in the kingdom,” said Faisal Aba Zaid of the public administration for the affairs of pilgrims at the Ministry of Hajj.
New measures include strict health monitoring at airports for arriving Saudis and visitors coming from countries where the virus has been cited or is prevalent, he said.
In April, Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visitor, hajj and umrah visas to residents of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and Saudi health authorities have put tight controls in place at the kingdom’s holy places in order to detect anyone exhibiting symptoms of the virus, Aba Zaid said.
Aba Zaid said he did not expect the hajj season to be affected by the epidemic in light of the tight preventative health measures Saudi Arabia has put in place.
The Ministry of Hajj is working with the Ministry of Health to keep abreast of the latest news and WHO updates related to the Ebola virus and to implement any required measures, he said.
“Medical centres and infirmaries located in areas where pilgrims gather have been equipped with quarantine units, especially as there are no globally recognised drugs to treat the virus,” he said.
“The Saudi authorities have taken serious preventative measures at land, sea and air ports and a medical staff of nurses and doctors have been stationed at the different ports and airports,” said Saad al-Shaaban, a customs officer at the Jeddah Islamic Port.
Detailed guidelines providing information on how to deal with any suspected case of the virus also have been distributed to staff at these crossings, he told Al-Shorfa.

Deadly Ebola Virus; MP Claims Ebola Virus Has Arrived in France, Patrick Balkany Issues “Emergency Alert”

Ebola Virus
National Assembly member Patrick Balkany claims that the Ebola virus has hit France, but his comments were quickly denied by the country’s health authorities.
“According to reliable medical sources, several cases have been reported in the French territory,”Balkany stated on his website, adding, “It did not fall from the sky….but given the medical secret, I can not reveal my source.”
Sylvain Baize, Director of the National Reference Center (NRC), repudiated the claim, stating in an email, “I can tell you that so far there are no confirmed cases of infection with Ebola virus in France.”

Rare virus sickens 14 babies in Kansas City area, USA

Virus Alert
Health authorities in the Kansas City area are investigating infections among 14 infants with a virus that can cause meningitis and other inflammation.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow says none of the infants has died, but all have been hospitalized, reports CBS affiliate KCTV5 News.
The infections are caused by HPeV3, one of a group of viruses called human parechoviruses. Shawnee Mission Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital have both reported cases.
The Kansas City Starreports the first cases among local infants were discovered in June.
Rosenow says it’s unclear if the infections are connected. Nine of the children are from Kansas and the rest are Missouri residents.
Rosenow says the department is working with the Missouri Health Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if there have been other infections.
Children’s Mercy released a newsletter about the virus back in 2010. It says the infections happen in babies less than 90 days old. Symptoms include fever, irritability and rash. Scientists isolated the first case of the virus 1999, after it sickened a 1-year-old child in Japan who presented with symptoms including fever, diarrhea and transient paralysis.
Experts also said it seems to be a summer-time disease, with peak months occurring in July through October.

Train crashes into concrete barrier and leaves scores injured in the Philippines

Train Alert

Rescue workers in the Philippines were scrambling Wednesday to save passengers on a train that crashed into a concrete barrier and rolled into a busy street intersection.

Senior superintendent Florencio Ortilla said several injured riders were already taken from the front car and transported to a nearby hospital, The Associated Press reported.

It’s not yet clear why the train crashed into the barrier.

Nobody yet has been reported dead, but the crash caused a massive traffic jam.


Severe heatwave forces government to deliver food to 170,000 families affected in Guatemala

Heatwave Warning

The Guatemalan government will distribute 4,000 tons of food to approximately 170,000 families affected by a recent heatwave in the Central American country.
Guatemalan Agriculture Minister Elmer Lopez said in a press conference Monday that the assistance program, worth $63 million, will begin on Oct. 1 and will continue for six months.
The announcement came following the weekly meeting of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and his cabinet.
The government will provide each family with 220 pounds of maize, 30 pounds of beans, and an additional 17 pounds of flour to those having a child below the age of five.
The heatwave that has hit the country in recent weeks, especially in the west, has affected the harvests of 170,000 families, according to official figures.
Worst-affected are the departments that fall under “the dry corridor,” including Jalapa, Jutiapa, Zacapa and El Progreso, in the eastern part of the country.
The 4,000 tons of food material for distribution will come from the Guatemalan and World Food Program (WFP) reserves.
Fifty-three percent of Guatemala’s 15 million inhabitants live in poverty, and one in every six people lives in extreme poverty, according to official figures.

Code Yellow heatwave alert for all of Romania

Heatwave Warning

The Romanian National Forecaster issued a Code Yellow warning of high temperatures and thermal discomfort for the entire country. There will be sizzling temperatures in most of Romania on Aug. 13-14, the Forecaster warned.

A heat wave will hit the country with temperatures moving as high as 35 to 37 degrees Celsius and the persons’ thermal discomfort will be pronounced, while the temperature-to-humidity index will pass the 80-unit mark. In isolated areas, the thermometeres will show 38 degrees,

ANM warns that starting with Thursday evening and over the course of Friday (august 15), weather instability will worsen in the western, northern and central regions of the country. Their will be strong winds, thunderstorms and hail.


Rare dust storm blows through Eastern Washington, USA

Storm drums up rare Haboob in Ritzville, Aug 12, 2014. (

A strong dust storm blew through Ritzville in Eastern Washington on Tuesday evening as thunderstorms developed throughout the region, bringing strong winds and abundant lightning.

The storm, known as a haboob, struck the area near Ritzville, Adams County, around 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Wind speeds at the time were between 40 and 50 mph.

Haboobs are strong dust and sand storms that are formed when air is forced down and pushed forward by the front of a traveling thunderstorm cell, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Winds stir up the dust and sand, creating a blowing wall, which can be as high as 10,000 feet.

The large dust storms are common in arid regions, such as the Sahara Desert and Arabian Peninsula, but they have also been reported in Eastern Washington in the past.


Deadly Ebola Virus; First European dies of Ebola as virus continues to spread

Ebola Virus
A Spanish priest who caught Ebola in Liberia has died in Madrid.
Miguel Pajares was working at a Catholic hospital in the Liberian capital when he contracted the virus.
The 75-year-old was airlifted back to Spain last week and had been treated with the experimental drug, Zmapp.
Meanwhile, Liberia is to be sent samples of the drug to treat doctors who have Ebola.
The drug has been fast tracked for use from the United States despite it not having been properly tested yet. It has already been used on two American missionaries with Ebola who are said to be improving.
The death toll from the current outbreak of Ebola has now reached 1,013.
James Dorbor Jallah from the Liberian national task force on Ebola stressed the gravity of the situation.
“People are dying and the disease is spreading very fast in congested communities, and this has got out of hand. It’s now spread across the sub-region, this is very important, it has become a global crisis,” he said.
China has flown in emergency humanitarian supplies to Sierra Leone. The aid included protective clothing and medicines. 
China is also planning to send three expert teams to help fight against the outbreak of the virus.


Subject To Change

Depth: 30 km

Distances: 408 km E of Nouméa, New Caledonia / pop: 93,060 / local time: 00:11:37.9 2014-08-14
350 km S of Isangel / pop: 1,437 / local time: 00:11:00.0 2014-08-14
282 km SE of Tadine, New Caledonia / pop: 7,492 / local time: 00:11:37.9 2014-08-14

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