Archive | February 10, 2016

Dozens of birds suddenly die in Wichita, Kansas, USA

About 40 Starlings were found dead on a street and in a neighborhood in West Wichita on Wednesday.
“It’s kind of weird,” said Seth Dugan, who works nearby.
The birds were found dead on Carr Avenue, south of Kellogg and Maize Road.
“Completely clear and then come back out 20 minutes later and there was a ton of birds laying out here and people were stopping and taking pictures on their cell phones,” said Dugan.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Wichita Fire Department responded to the scene and gathered the dead birds. The Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism also responded and investigated the cause of death.
Wildlife Biologist Charlie Cope has ruled out poison and guns as the cause of death.
“Occasionally, a couple may come in contact with electrical line,” said Cope. “Those birds being in contact and getting electrocuted, that would be my best guess based on years of doing this.”
Cope added that Starlings are not protected by federal or state law as they are an “invasive species” and not native to North America.
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Dozens of Pelicans dying, reason unknown on Grand Isle, Louisiana, USA

As many as 35 brown pelicans have been found dead on Grand Isle in the past two weeks, prompting an investigation by scientists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. They’ve dismissed suspicions that the birds were shot but have yet to determine the cause of death.
The dead pelicans were first reported to the Grand Isle Police Department, which asked state officials to investigate. “In the wintertime, we always get some calls about dead pelicans, but this seems to be an extraordinary amount,” said Cheryl McCormack, secretary to Police Chief Euris DuBois. “We’re alarmed about the number of them.”
The brown pelican, Louisiana’s state bird, was removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened species in 2009, but it is still protected under federal law. The birds had largely vanished from Louisiana’s coast by the mid-1960s, after exposure to the pesticide DDT resulted in too-fragile eggshells.
More than 1,200 pelicans were imported from Florida in 1968. But the time of delisting, there were more than 12,000 breeding pairs in Texas and Louisiana.
Several dead brown pelicans collected by the Grand Isle Police Department in recent days have been turned over to wildlife officials, and others were being collected on Wednesday (Feb. 3) for testing, said Michael Seymour, a non-game ornithologist with Wildlife and Fisheries. He said there have been several estimates of the number of dead birds, including 14 along several miles of beaches and 20 in a single mile of beach. A survey by a Wildlife and Fisheries employee found 15 or more birds over several miles.
Seymour said officials already have dismissed early reports that some of the pelicans might have been shot. A veterinarian with the department will conduct a necropsy, an animal version of an autopsy, on better-preserved carcasses, he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll have an answer in the next few days, but we’re not entirely sure,” Seymour said. If the necropsies are unsuccessful, bird carcasses might be sent to a federal wildlife disease research center out of state for a more comprehensive review.
Seymour said it’s not unusual to find dead pelicans washing up on beaches or elsewhere during cold, winter months, especially juvenile birds that starved to death before learning the best hunting skills. Some winter pelican deaths are the result of parasites, he said. Still others can die in the aftermath of winter storms, the result of being caught in cold rain, having their feathers become waterlogged then succumbing to hypothermia.
“It’s not necessarily unusual to see pelicans dying in the winter,” he said. “What may or may not be unusual is the number of dead birds. We don’t have a baseline of what to expect each year; we don’t have anybody counting dead birds every year.”
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Subject To Change

Depth: 41 km

Distances: 105 km NE of Nuku‘alofa, Tonga / pop: 22,400 / local time: 10:30:20.3 2016-02-11
70 km S of Pangai, Tonga / pop: 1,738 / local time: 10:30:20.3 2016-02-11

Global viewRegional view

Six die in pharma company explosion in southern India

Stock image
Stock image
Six workers died and another sustained injuries after an explosion inside the Hasitha Pharmaceutical plant on the outskirts of Hyderabad, southern India. Local sources said there were 11 workers in the factory when the blast took place in one of the plant’s reactors, and a large fire subsequently engulfed the building.
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Apocalyptic Drought Strikes Haiti

Drought Emergency Alert_2

Haiti’s third consecutive year of drought, exacerbated by the global El Niño weather phenomenon, has driven people deeper into poverty and hunger, and doubled the severely food-insecure population, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday.
Some 3.6 million Haitians are facing food insecurity, among them more than 1.5 million people who are severely food insecure. This is a key finding from an emergency food security assessment conducted by WFP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and National Food Security Coordination.
“Without rain for the 2016 spring season, farmers will lose their fourth consecutive harvest on which they normally depend to feed their families,” warned Wendy Bigham, WFP’s Deputy Country Director in Haiti, in a news release.
“We need to help them meet their immediate needs and help build up their resilience,” she added.
According to the agency, the main harvest in 2015 fell below average, with losses of up to 70 per cent in some areas. This is severely threatening food security in Haiti, where agriculture employs half of the working population and 75 per cent of people live on less than US$2 per day.
In addition, the current El Niño phenomenon, which began in early 2015, is one of the strongest on record and is affecting the food security of vulnerable people around the globe, including in Haiti.
In some areas of the country, up to 70 per cent of the population is facing hunger and a recent study conducted by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of Haiti revealed that malnutrition rates are above emergency levels in several communes.
WFP intends to scale up its food assistance programmes to address the most critical and immediate needs of one million drought-affected people by distributing cash and food rations. The agency also plans to complement the immediate distributions with Cash-for-Assets programmes, in which 200,000 Haitians are paid in cash in exchange for work on watershed management and soil conservation projects to improve local infrastructure for long-term development.
In coordination with the Government, WFP has been distributing food to about 120,000 Haitians since November in areas worst affected by the drought. A two-month food ration feeds a family of five and includes such basic food items as rice, pulses, oil, sugar and salt.
WFP said its assistance to families is essential until at least the next harvest, expected in July. To meet the basic needs of one million Haitians, the agency, which is funded entirely by voluntary contributions, requires US$84 million.
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***BE ALERT***

Magnetogram 10.02.16  22.13 hrs UTC

Massive Hail Storm Strikes St Ives, Cornwall, UK

Hail storm hits St Ives in Cornwall, UK
A street in St Ives, Cornwall, UK reportedly became impassable yesterday when two inches of hail suddenly fell in a very short period of time. Footage shows the aftermath of the brief hail storm which comes at the tail end of Storm Imogen. The filmer later wrote online: “School children threw hail-balls across the road at each other at home time.”
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Apocalyptic Drought Strikes Ethiopia, Africa

Drought Emergency Alert_2

The international community has just three weeks to provide $245 million in emergency food aid to help prevent a potentially catastrophic escalation in severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases in drought-afflicted parts of Ethiopia from the end of April when the main ‘hungry season’ begins.
“We only have until the end of February for the international community to pledge and disburse more funds for urgently needed food aid. It can take around 120 days to purchase and transport food into Ethiopia through Djibouti, so we all must step up now otherwise children and families in dire need of assistance could simply not have any food from outside,” warns Save the Children Ethiopia Country Director John Graham.
“The present situation here keeps me awake at night – if these emergency funds do not arrive in time, there is no question that there will be a critical fracture in the food aid supply pipeline during the main ‘hungry season, which peaks in August.”
As Ethiopia continues to endure the devastating impacts of its’ worst drought in 50 years, which has already left a staggering 10.2 million people currently in need of emergency food assistance including six million children, the narrow window for the international community to act is rapidly closing, according to Mr Graham.
Over 400,000 children will need urgent supplementary feeding for SAM this year – a condition that can lead to physical stunting and mental development delays – while 1.7 million children and pregnant and lactating women suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) are at real risk of sliding into further crisis if the food pipeline breaks down.
“In 2016, when we have all the right systems in place to prevent a massive humanitarian disaster, it would be absolutely unforgivable if the international community failed to act – we all said ‘never again’ after the tragedy of 1984, and again after the famine in Somalia in 2011 – so now is crunch time and they must step up before it’s too late.”
Despite early warning alarm bells ringing for months, UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s call for urgent support is still not being acted upon quickly enough. Currently the combined Ethiopian Government and UN Appeal for $1.4 billion to combat the impact of the drought remains less than half funded.
“The government have shouldered much of the financial burden so far, but if they don’t get more immediate help from foreign donors they may be forced to redirect funding from other vital areas, including education and maternal and child health programs, in order to buy life-saving food aid,” says Mr Graham.
A series of failed rainy seasons triggered by El Nino weather system has devastated food production and livelihoods across vast swathes of the country, causing food crops to fail, livestock to perish, and severe water shortages leaving 5.8 million people in need of urgent access to drinking water.
“Clean water and hygienic conditions in stabilisation centres where children are treated for malnutrition is critical, as is sufficient water and nutritious food when they return home to help prevent a cycle of repeat child in-patients in already overstretched rural clinics,” says Mr Graham.
In many drought-affected areas, dried up wells, springs and rivers have led to a sharp increase in chronic skin conditions such as scabies, with ever-worsening dehydration weakening people’s health and leaving them vulnerable to communicable diseases.
“Families should not be put in a position where they need to make heartbreaking decisions about what they use precious water for – to drink and cook with, or to bathe their children and prevent the spread of disease,” adds Mr Graham.
“The situation here is as grave as I have ever seen it in the 19 years I have spent in Ethiopia and we now only have a tiny fraction of time for the international community to help to stop this.”
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Severe heatwave sends temps over 40C for 4th day in a row in Perth, Australia

Heatwave Warning

Twelve taken to hospital by midday in longest run of 40C days in Perth since 1933 as Marble Bar braces for week of 45C or above temperatures
The temperature in Perth, Western Australia, has topped 40C for the fourth day in a row, a phenomenon that has only been recorded once before during the exact same run of days 83 years ago.
The weather monitoring station in central Perth reached 40.3C at 11.30am on Wednesday, then dropped down a few degrees as the sea breeze moved in.
The heatwave began on Sunday, when the 40.4C temperatures caused a man to get second-degree burns on his feet from walking on hot sand at the beach. Dennis Bertoldo, from St John Ambulance WA, said the man was taken by ambulance from the beach to Joondalup health campus, where he received treatment for second-degree burns.
On Monday the temperature peaked at 43.5C, forcing the hospitalisation of a woman in her 70s who was playing golf when the day was still slightly cooler at 41C.
By Tuesday it had dropped down slightly to 41C but Bertoldo said St John Ambulance still responded to two significant cases of heat exhaustion: the first a man in his 20s who had to be rushed to hospital after collapsing while working on a roof in Huntingdale and the second an 11-year-old boy who suffered severe dehydration and dizziness in his lunch break at school. Bertoldo said 12 people had been taken to hospital for heat-related illness by midday on Wednesday.
A Bureau of Meteorology forecaster, Karl Brunckhorst, said it was the longest run of 40C days the city had seen since 1933 and directly mirrored that heatwave, which also ran from February 7 to February 10.
Wednesday was also the seventh 40C-plus day in Perth this summer, setting a new record for the city, which, despite its reputation for warm temperatures, normally hovers around the low to mid-30s.
Brunckhorst said the heatwave, which was caused by an “unusually stagnant” weather system, was unlikely to stretch into a fifth day, with a top of 38C predicted for Thursday.
“We’re expecting it to cool a little bit, as much as cool is the appropriate word,” he said.
Some 1,488km north, Marble Bar, generally conceded to be the hottest place in WA thanks to a 100-day run of more than 40C in the 1920s, is preparing for a week of temperatures above 45C, starting with 47C forecast for Wednesday then followed by two days at 48C then dropping back down to 47C before rounding out the seven-day forecast with three days of relatively cool 45C temperatures.
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