Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

No magnitude 5.0 or greater  earthquakes so far today.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

New Zealand – A local state of emergency has been declared on the West Coast after flooding forced the evacuation of nearly 200 people in Franz Josef. Flooding has also hit Nelson and Tasman, and trees have brought down power lines in Auckland as wild weather lashes the country.

Wildlife

Live Sumatran Rhino Captured in Indonesia

Humans have made contact with a Sumatran rhino in the Indonesian region of Borneo for the first time in 40 years.

Unnamed

Japan whaling fleet returns from Antarctic hunt with 333 whales

Japan’s whaling fleet returned on Thursday from its Antarctic hunt after a year-long suspension with a take of more than 300 whales, including pregnant females.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that Japan’s whaling in the Southern Ocean should stop, prompting it to call off its hunt that season, although it said at the time it intended to resume later.

Japan then amended its plan for the next season to cut the number of minke whales it aimed to take by two-thirds from previous hunts.

Its fleet set out in December despite international criticism, including from important ally the United States.

The final ships of the four-vessel whaling fleet returned to Shimonoseki in southwestern Japan on Thursday, having achieved the goal of 333 minke whales, the Fisheries Agency said.

Of these, 103 were males and 230 were females, with 90 percent of the mature females pregnant.

Japan, which has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture, began what it calls “scientific whaling” in 1987, a year after an international whaling moratorium took effect.

The meat ends up on shop shelves, although most Japanese no longer eat it.

Japan intends to take nearly 4,000 whales over the next 12 years as part of its research programme and has repeatedly said that its ultimate goal is the resumption of commercial whaling.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Kansas, USA

Governor Sam Brownback has declared a State of Disaster Emergency for an area of south-central Kansas threatened by major wildfires.

A wildfire that began in Oklahoma on Tuesday spread into Kansas and burned about 41,000 acres in Comanche County before it moved into Barber County. As of Wednesday evening, the fire had burned more than 72,000 acres in both states.

The Kansas Adjutant General’s Office said two houses on the north edge of Medicine Lodge have been destroyed by the fire, and “the remaining 800 to 1000 homes and business structures are in danger.”

Wildfires – Texas, USA

After a windy Wednesday fanned several small wildfires across the South Plains and Panhandle, including one in the Panhandle that threatened a hospital, the National Weather Service called for a relatively calm day on Thursday.

But high winds and fire weather could return Friday after topping out at 69 mph on Wednesday in the northern South Plains.

Disease

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

On 15 March 2016, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 1 additional laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus.

On 18 March 2016, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 29 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, including 11 deaths.

Lassa Fever – Germany

Between 10 and 16 March 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for Germany notified WHO/EURO of 2 cases of Lassa fever.

Lassa Fever – Togo

As of 9 March 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of Togo notified WHO of the country’s first 2 cases of Lassa fever infection.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 15 and 16 March 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 4 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 1 death. One of these reported cases is linked to the MERS-CoV outbreak currently occurring in a hospital in Buraidah city.