Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.9 Earthquake hits near the north coast of New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.4 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.2 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.2 Earthquake hits Mindoro in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Mariana Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 Earthquake hits west of MacQuarie Island.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone 04s (Kate), located approximately 680 nm southwest of Cocos Island, Australia, and is tracking southwestward at 09 knots.

Tropical depression 23w (Jangmi), is located approximately 116 nm north of Zamboanga, Philippines, and is tracking southward at 06 knots.

Philippine officials say the death toll has risen to 53 from Tropical Storm Jangmi, which caused landslides and floods in the central and southern parts of the country. Most of the deaths occurred Tuesday as the storm moved away from southern Mindanao Island, where a day earlier its heavy rains closed highways and bridges.

Many local residents and authorities were caught off guard by the massive landslides that buried houses and vehicles under rocks and mud. Officials say dozens of homes were destroyed.


Bat-Filled Tree May Have Been Source of Current Ebola Outbreak

In the small village of Meliandou, in Guinea, there stood a tall, hollowed-out tree where children loved to play. But thousands of bats lived in the tree, and one toddler — a 2-year-old named Emile Ouamouno — may have contracted Ebola from playing there.

Hollow Tree Bats Ebola 2

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China

On 27 December 2014, the Department of Health, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region confirmed a human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

Flu deaths are at epidemic threshold – USA

We have passed an epidemic threshold of flu and pneumonia deaths in the U.S. this season, according to the Centres for Disease Control.

As of Dec. 20, 15 children in nine states had died of flu and pneumonia, and it is widespread in 36 states, said the CDC. The proportion of deaths from the disease was at the epidemic threshold, with 6.8 percent of deaths in 122 cities attributed to flu and pneumonia, said the CDC.

The U.S. experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year, and so far, “what we are seeing is a typical pattern for the flu season,” said CDC spokeswoman Darlene Foote. The current outbreak has shown a rise in influenza-like illness over baseline levels for the past five weeks. That was followed by a rise in detection of cases, then hospitalizations, and now an increase in flu-related deaths.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone 04s (Kate), located approximately 555 nm southwest of Cocos Island, Australia, and is tracking south-southwestward at 10 knots.

Tropical depression 23w (Jangmi), is located approximately 95 nm east-northeast of Puerto Princesa, Philippines, and is tracking west-southwestward at 08 knots.

Tropical storm Jangmi (known locally as Seniang) has claimed the lives of at least three people and left one missing in Mindanao, Philippines. Jangmi hit Surigao del Sur province on northern Mindanao in the early hours of Monday morning GMT. The storm, with winds of up to 80 kilometres per hour, hit the southern island of Mindanao, then crossed to the central islands. According to the Manila Airport Authority, Jangmi forced the cancellation of 32 domestic flights.


Malaysia Update – The severe flooding in Malaysia and Thailand has now killed at least 24 people and forced the evacuation of more than 200,000.

Sumatra, Indonesia – Heavy downpours in the last several days have triggered floods, engulfing the Trans-Sumatra highway in North Sumatra and villages on the border of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Timor Leste. In East Nusa Tenggara, three villages in West Malaka district, Malaka regency, were engulfed by floods as a result of the bursting Benanain River.


Ebola outbreak: Scotland confirms its 1st case

A health-care worker returning from Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola and is receiving treatment in Glasgow, the Scottish government confirmed on Monday.

In a news release, the government said that “the risk to others is considered extremely low” because the patient was diagnosed in the very early stages of the illness. Officials are investigating everyone who possibly had contact with the patient and will monitor those deemed to be at risk.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Yesterday evening a new paroxysm occurred on Etna (last was on December 2nd, 2013). Seismic tremor started to rise steeply about 16:00 (local time) followed by a strong seismo-volcanic event occurred at 16:50 (local time). The brief but intense eruption was characterized by lava fountains and lava flows but bad visibility prevented to observe which craters were involved. Occasional views especially from the NE side permitted to see several fronts of lava flows descending the western slope into the Valle del Bove . The fountaining generated a column of gas and tephra that has rose a few km above the volcano and was then bent by the winds to the east.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

Tropical cyclone 04s (Kate), located approximately 345 nm west-southwest of Cocos Island, Australia, and is tracking southwestward at 04 knots.

Tropical storm 23w (Jangmi), is located approximately 407 nm southeast of Manila, Philippines, and is tracking west-northwestward at 09 knots.


Malaysia Update – The worst flooding in Malaysia in more than a decade has claimed lives of at least 10 people including five in the worst-hit state of Kelantan. The flood situation in Kelantan is still critical with 111,376 victims at the relief centres this afternoon, Bernama. More storms are expected in Malaysia in the next three days. Meanwhile, Thailand and Sri Lankan authorities have also warned their people to brace for more floods.

Flash flood in Kelantan Malaysia 2014 photo

Sri Lanka Update – The recent flooding in Sri Lanka has claimed the lives of 24 people and left 8 others missing. The floods have also destroyed 4,593 houses and damaged a further 14,649 houses. Eight bodies have been recovered in the Rilpola Haliela landslide affected area in Badulla and another seven persons are still missing.


Human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus – China

On 23 December 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 1 laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus.

WHO continues to closely monitor the H5N6 situation and conduct risk assessment. So far, the overall risk associated with the H5N6 virus has not changed.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): A series of small to moderate explosions occurred during 26-27 Dec at the volcano. The largest one, at 17:07 local time Friday, produced an ash plume that rose 3.5 km above the crater. Yesterday, CENAPRED recorded 6 explosions. Night-time incandescence is visible at the crater where a cake-like lava dome is growing, confirmed also during a recent overflight. This type of activity is still well within the normal range of the current state of semi-persistent mild activity at the volcano, and the alert level remains unchanged at “Yellow Phase 2”.

San Miguel (El Salvador): The volcano remains restless with seismic activity above background and shows occasional pulsating gas and steam emissions. Overall, activity has been slowly decreasing over the past months. Monday marks the anniversary of the strong explosion on 29 Dec 2013, when a large ash plume caused ash falls in Chinameca, New Guadalupe, Santiago de María, San Jorge and other areas near the volcano.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone 04s (Kate), located approximately 280 nm west-southwest of Cocos Island, Australia, and is tracking southwestward at 04 knots.

Tropical depression 23w (twentythree), forms in the Western Pacific, is located approximately 575 nm southeast of Manila, Philippines, and is tracking westward at 05 knots.


Malaysia – At least five people have been killed in the floods along Malaysia’s east coast, with over 160,000 displaced. Malaysia has announced an extra $142m (£92m) to help victims of the country’s worst flooding in decades.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Bardarbunga (Central Iceland): The eruption continues, but seems to be becoming slowly weaker. The latest measurement shows the Nornahraun lava field measures now more than 81 square km. Seismic activity under the caldera has been slowly decreasing overall as well. However, the decreasing trend is very weak and the eruption could still continue for many months, or take a new, unexpected evolution at any time. The future, or probably 2015 will tell!

Fogo (Cape Verde): According to local press, volcanologist João Fonseca, responsible for volcanic monitoring and equipment maintenance at Fogo volcano, mentioned that volcanic activity shows signs of decreasing and that the eruption could be approaching its end. Still, the northern lobe of the recently active lava flow to the west remained active during the past days and smaller lobes advanced through more farm land in the Cova Tina area.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): Explosive eruptions, by explosions and or partial collapse events of the active lava dome continue to occur regularly. On 26 Dec at 04:37 UTC, an eruption was reported to produce an ash plume that rose to 26,000 ft (8 km) altitude and drifted west. (Tokyo VAAC)

Aso (Kyushu): The eruption from the volcano’s Nakadake crater continues with relatively intense and near continuous strombolian activity. Incandescent material is frequently ejected several tens of meters above the crater rim. An ash plume rises a few hundred meters above the crater to up to 1-2 km altitude. A second vent inside the crater produces a dense steam plume and likely has some milder explosive activity as well.

Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands, Japan): The eruption continues well into its second year, steadily enlarging the island with lava flows. During the past weeks, most activity has been concentrated to produce flows towards the north and northwest where the island has been growing considerably. By now, nothing is left of the former small island, result of the 1973 eruption, and the surface of the island is currently about 10 times of what it had been before the ongoing eruption.

Santiaguito (Guatemala): Explosive activity at the Caliente dome has picked up. Explosions with ash plumes rising several hundred meters have become more frequent. The lava flow on the eastern side remains active, according the the observatory’s latest report.

Pacaya (Guatemala): INSIVUMEH reported a week ago that activity decreased and that there are currently no signs of explosive activity from the Mackenney crater. Only a steam and gas plume is being emitted.