Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits near the coast of Ecuador.

The death toll from Ecuador’s devastating magnitude 7.5 earthquake has risen to 602 people, as dozens of aftershocks shook cities and towns around the country, spooking residents but causing no further damage.

5.4 Earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Moluccan Sea.

5.0 Earthquake hits southwest of Sumatra, Indonesia.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 19s (Fantala), located approximately 473 nm north of Port Louis, Mauritius, and is tracking west-northwestward at 10 knots.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 20p (Amos), located approximately 171 nm west-northwest of Pago Pago, American Samoa, and is tracking east-southeastward at 15 knots.

NewsBytes:

India – A landslide at hotel construction site in the tourist town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh of India has claimed lives of 16 construction workers. Heavy rainfall triggered the landslide.

Wildlife

Scientists discover coral reef near the mouth of the Amazon River

Scientists have discovered a vibrant coral reef ecosystem near the mouth of the Amazon River that stretches roughly 3,700 square miles — even though coral isn’t supposed to be able to grow there in the first place.

The reef described in the journal Science Advances could shed light on how these delicate organisms, which provide essential scaffolding for so much marine wildlife, might survive in less-than-ideal conditions.

Coral are tiny little soft-bodied animals, related to anemones and to jellyfish, that band together to build their protective, rock-like reefs by pulling calcium and carbonate out of the ocean water. Reefs serve as hot spots of biodiversity, home to a vast array of sea creatures, from crabs, sea urchins and algae to fish, sharks and turtles.

Coral reefs thrive in clear waters along tropical shelves, but river systems like the Amazon are thought to create gaps where they do not grow. That’s in part because the plume of murky, sediment-filled water spilling out from the gargantuan river and into the ocean doesn’t allow much light to come through.

So the discovery came as a total surprise to study coauthor Patricia Yager, an oceanographer at the University of Georgia, who in 2012 set out with Brazilian scientists aboard the research vessel Atlantis to study the plume coming out from the river mouth and flowing into the ocean.

There’s a certain amount of irony in the discovery, as the system is already under threat from oil drilling and high levels of fishing in the area, the scientists said.

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Nature – Images

Interesting Images

To mark the Hubble telescope’s 26th anniversary in space, scientists took a picture of the Bubble Nebula, which is basically a giant star blowing bubbles – it is a seven-light-year-wide pocket of gas being blown away by a blazing massive star about 7,100 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. The star responsible for the bubbles is so hot and bright that it launches its own gas into space at more than 6 million kilometres per hour.

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Environment

Congo Signs Historic Rainforest Preservation Pact

The Republic of Congo has signed an historic $200 million agreement that aims to reverse the rapid deforestation of its vast rainforest, the world’s second largest behind the Amazon.

Congo is the first nation to sign a pact with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), a seven-month-old program designed to renew forest protection efforts in the Congo Basin.

Forests in the Congo Basin cover about two million square kilometres, about the size of the Central American country of Mexico. But the forests in the Congo Basin are shrinking by about 5,600 kilometres a year due, in part, to the expansion of palm oil plantations.

Disease

Cholera – United Republic of Tanzania

The National IHR Focal Point of the United Republic of Tanzania has provided WHO with an update on the ongoing outbreak of cholera.

As of 20 April 2016, a total of 24,108 cases, including 378 deaths, had been reported nationwide. The majority of these cases had been reported from 23 regions in mainland Tanzania (20,961 cases, including 329 deaths).

Yellow Fever – China

Between 4 and 12 April 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of China notified WHO of 2 additional imported cases of yellow fever (YF). To date, a total of 11 laboratory-confirmed YF cases imported from Angola have been reported in China.

Zika virus infection – Papua New Guinea

On 11 March 2016, the National Department of Health of Papua New Guinea reported that 6 cases of Zika virus infection had been confirmed through retrospective testing of samples taken from patients presenting with a febrile illness between July 2014 and March 2016.

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

Between 1 and 15 April 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 10 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 3 deaths.

Meningitis – Niger

An outbreak of meningitis epidemic in Niger has killed 76. At least 20 have died of the disease in the capital, Niamey.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Pennsylvania, USA

Two wildfires in a remote part of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains have burned more than 4,200 acres of forest, and local officials on Friday evening took the rare step of calling on out-of-state firefighters for help.

The larger of the two fires, which has scorched 3,650 acres, was 20% contained Friday evening; the smaller one, which has burned 643 acres, was 80% contained. Officials fear the two fires might merge. One structure and multiple “out buildings” have been destroyed.

Wildfires – North Carolina, Alabama, USA

A wildfire that grew to 2,500 acres Friday forced officials to close Madison County schools and restrict nearby hiking as firefighters worked to corral the blaze while keeping it away from structures.

The Silver Mine Fire began Thursday afternoon in Pisgah National Forest about 1 mile east of Hot Springs near Greene County, Tennessee. Firefighters had it 10 percent contained Friday morning.

In eastern North Carolina, firefighters laboured to gain control over three wildfires that had burned nearly 17,000 acres by Friday. In Hyde and Dare counties, 14,000 acres burned while fire consumed about 1,600 acres in Brunswick County near Wilmington.

Another fire broke out in the 150,000 acre Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, shutting down about 30 miles of U.S. 264, which remained closed Friday morning.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Pavlof (Alaska Peninsula, USA): Seismic activity at the volcano has continued to decrease over the past two weeks and no anomalous activity has been detected in satellite data since weakly elevated surface temperatures were seen on April 8. AVO is therefore lowering the aviation colour code to GREEN and the Volcano Alert Level to NORMAL.