Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.9 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.4 Earthquake hits Madagascar.

5.3 Earthquake hits Guatemala.

5.2 Earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Guerrero, Mexico.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

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Drought

Drought in Madagascar

A severe drought in southern Madagascar has led to major food shortages across the island nation, raising the risk of widespread famine.

UN agencies warned of a potential “catastrophe”, as around half of the population in southern Madagascar – nearly 850,000 people – are experiencing “alarming” levels of hunger.

This is the third consecutive year in a row that crops have failed and water availability is extremely low.

The drought has left around 20 percent of households in southern Madagascar experiencing emergency levels of hunger.

Disease

Poliovirus in Madagascar

In Madagascar, 8 new cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) have been confirmed, with dates of onset of paralysis ranging from 22 April to 29 May 2015. These new cases are genetically linked to cVDPV1 isolated from a case with onset on 29 September 2014, which indicates that the circulation of cVDPV 1 first detected in September 2014 continues and is geographically wide-spread. Five of the new cases are from Androy region in the south of the country while the other cases are from Menabe, Anosy and Boeni regions in the centre of Madagascar. The previous case with onset in September occurred in Sofia region, which is situated in the north of the country.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Florida, USA – Major thunderstorms cause floods, heavy traffic across state as many street flood. The National Weather Service declared a flooding advisory in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. The warning was extended in the afternoon after the rainfall exceeded eight inches.

Madagascar – Floods in Madagascar have killed 14 people and forced more than 21,000 people from their homes in and around the capital Antananarivo. The authorities say more rain is due in coming days and could cause further damage to the Indian Ocean nation.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 14s (Glenda), located approximately 723 nm southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, and is tracking south-southwestward at 14 knots.

NewsBytes:

UAE – A sandstorm in the Fujairah region of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today claimed the lives of two people.

Madagascar – More flooding in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo and the surrounding areas has claimed the lives of at least 14 people and displaced more than 21,000.

Disease

Plague Spreads in Madagascar Following Cyclones

One of the most deadly infectious diseases on the planet has spread across parts of Madagascar in the wake of last month’s cyclones Chedza and Bansi.

Plague has killed at least 57 people out of the 213 known cases after rats that carry the disease emerged from the storm’s flooding and took refuge in populated areas.

The bacterial disease is passed on to humans by fleas that earlier bit an infected rodent.

Once infected, people can die from the bubonic and other forms of plague within 24 hours if not treated.

The Madagascar government says it is organizing a response to the epidemic, including free treatment with antibiotics.

Officials warn that the species of flea that carries the plague across the island nation has developed an immunity to the insecticide used to control it.

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Disease

Plague in Madagascar – Update

The head of the World Health Organization is warning about an “alarming” plague outbreak in Madagascar that could worsen, particularly as fleas that transmit the disease to humans have developed immunity to insecticide.

Plague is “endemic in Madagascar,” where seasonal outbreaks can be exacerbated by poverty and an increasing number of people living in close urban settings. Plague responds well to treatment when detected early, which is possible with a “cheap and reliable” diagnostic test that provides results within 15 minutes.

However, the current outbreak has managed to establish a foothold in the capital Antananarivo, and could spread easily through the city’s densely populated slums. Earlier this month, the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID) issued a statement to say that the plague epidemic had reached Madagascar’s capital with 10 suspected cases.

A recent tropical storm has exacerbated the threat of the disease spreading from “untold numbers of rats” that have been displaced by flooding.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Madagascar – Tropical storm Chedza has claimed the lives of at least 14 people in Madagascar. Chedza has further displaced more than 36,000 Madagascans. Most of the fatalities are as a result of landslides caused by heavy rain and buildings collapsing as strong winds tore roofs from houses.

Japan – A series of avalanches over the weekend in Nagano and Niigata prefectures in Japan have claimed the lives of four people.

Bolivia – At least 15 people died and about 10,400 families have suffered property damage after heavy rains caused floods in Bolivia.

Wildlife

Locusts Ravaging Madagascar

Madagascar risks having two-thirds of its crops overrun by locust swarms if it fails to act now, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns. “This could very well be a last window of opportunity to avert an extended crisis,” said FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva.

The country’s worst locust infestation in 60 years had spread across a wide swath of the country by early April, and FAO says the agency has been falling short in its efforts to raise funds from Western donors to combat the plague.

“If we don’t act now, the plague could last years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” cautioned Graziano da Silva.

Experts say there are now more than 500 billion ravenous locusts on the island nation, chomping through about 100,000 tons of vegetation each day.

“The last (locust plague) was in the 1950s and it had a duration of 17 years. So if nothing is done, it can last for five to 10 years, depending on the conditions.”

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Wildlife

Poaching Pushes 2 Madagascar Tortoises to Brink

Illegal poaching is “raging out of control” and pushing radiated and ploughshare tortoises to the brink of extinction, according to a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

More than 1,000 of the animals have been confiscated from smugglers in the first three months of 2013 alone, the environmental group reported. A total of 54 ploughshare tortoises were intercepted in Thailand, and the species is “now the most common tortoise for sale in Bangkok’s infamous Chatuchak wildlife market,” according to the statement.

The ploughshare tortoise was once common in northern Madagascar but as of 2008 it was estimated that there were only 400 individuals left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These reptiles can grow up to 19 inches (47 centimeters) long and weigh up to 42 pounds (19 kilograms).

The radiated tortoise lives in the country’s south. Its dark brown or black domed shell is covered with bright yellow or orange starlike patterns and can grow up to 16 inches (40 cm) long. They can live for an estimated 100 years, according to the IUCN.

“These tortoises are truly one of Madagascar’s most iconic species,” James Deutsch, executive director of the Africa Program at WCS, said in the statement. “This level of exploitation is unsustainable. Unless immediate action is taken to better protect the wild populations, their extinction is imminent.”

Ploughshare tortoise