Thursday, April 24, 2014

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Bus Crashes Into Tractor Trolley In Pakistan - 42 Killed, 17 Wounded!

April 24, 2014 - PAKISTAN - A bus going to Karachi has crashed into a tractor trolley in Pakistan, with at least 42 people killed and 17 wounded, according to police. Women and children were among the dead.


Pakistani rescuers use excavators to pull a tractor-trailer from a passenger bus after an accident in the town of Sukkur,
425 kilometres north of Karachi in the southern province of Sindh on April 20, 2014.(AFP Photo / Shahid Ali)


The bus was carrying over 50 passengers when it lost control, collided with the other vehicle and was completely destroyed, rescue workers said, as quoted by India’s largest independent news service.

Police and rescuers immediately rushed to the scene and started cutting through the wreckage of the bus to rescue passengers.


Pakistani rescuers attempt to pull passengers out of a bus after an accident with a tractor-trailer in the town of Sukkur,
425 kilometres north of Karachi in the southern province of Sindh on April 20, 2014.(AFP Photo / Shahid Ali)

The bus driver died on the spot, while the tractor trolley’s driver was injured.

The accident happened in the town of Sukkur, 425 kilometers north of Karachi in the southern province of Sindh. - RT.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - 52 Year-Old French Banker Jumps To Her Death In Paris; After Questioning Her Superiors!

April 24, 2014 - PARIS, FRANCE - There have been 13 senior financial services executives deaths around the world this year, but the most notable thing about the sad suicide of the 14th, a 52-year-old banker at France's Bred-Banque-Populaire, is she is the first female.




As Le Parisien reports, Lydia (no surname given) jumped from the bank's Paris headquarter's 14th floor shortly before 10am. FranceTV added that sources said "she questioned her superiors before jumping out the window," but the bank denies it noting that she had been in therpapy for several years.

FranceTV and Le Parisien reports,
An employee of the Bred-Banque Populaire has committed suicide, Tuesday, April 22 in the morning at the headquarters of the bank. On her arrival at headquarters, quai de la Rapee, in the 12th arrondissement of Paris...

The incident occurred shortly before 10 am, 200 meters from the Ministry of Finance.

...

According to our sources, she questioned his superiors before jumping out the window, that formally denies the direction of the Bank.

"There is absolutely no evidence for designating his relationships with his hierarchy as responsible or letter or message " insists the direction of the communication FranceTV info.

It also speaks of a "very painful moment for the company" .

...

In an email to all employees consulted by FranceTV info, the management of the bank confirms the "death by suicide" and said "severely affected." It shows have established a psychological unit.

...

"For the moment, nothing puts the company in question, says the majority union SUNI-Bred/UNSA. The employee got along very well with her new team, her superior is very nice.

"According to a close," Lydia lived alone, in a difficult environment.

The human resources department states that this inhabitant of Ivry was in therapy for several years. Each describes a "secretive" but "very well known and popular" woman, but "never spoke of it."
This is the 14th financial services exective death in recent months...

1 - William Broeksmit, 58-year-old former senior executive at Deutsche Bank AG, was found dead in his home after an apparent suicide in South Kensington in central London, on January 26th.

2 - Karl Slym, 51 year old Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym, was found dead on the fourth floor of the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok on January 27th.

3 - Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old JP Morgan employee, died after falling from the roof of the JP Morgan European headquarters in London on January 27th.

4 - Mike Dueker, 50-year-old chief economist of a US investment bank was found dead close to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State.

5 - Richard Talley, the 57 year old founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was found dead earlier this month after apparently shooting himself with a nail gun.

6 - Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, however the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.

7 - Ryan Henry Crane, a 37 year old executive at JP Morgan died in an alleged suicide just a few weeks ago.  No details have been released about his death aside from this small obituary announcement at the Stamford Daily Voice.

8 - Li Junjie, 33-year-old banker in Hong Kong jumped from the JP Morgan HQ in Hong Kong this week.

9 - James Stuart Jr, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO, found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz., the morning of Feb. 19. A family spokesman did not say what caused the death.

10 - Edmund (Eddie) Reilly, 47, a trader at Midtown’s Vertical Group, commited suicide by jumping in front of LIRR train

11 - Kenneth Bellando, 28, a trader at Levy Capital, formerly investment banking analyst at JPMorgan, jumped to his death from his 6th floor East Side apartment.

12 - Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, the former CEO of Dutch bank ABN Amro found dead at home near Amsterdam with wife and daughter.

13 - Li Jianhua, 49, the director of China's Banking Regulatory Commission died of a sudden heart attack.

14 - Lydia _____, 52 - jumped to her suicide from the 14th floor of Bred-Banque Populaire in Paris. - Zero Hedge.



THE PRIEST CLASS OF THE MAGI: Precursors To The Fall Of The Vatican, Immoral Christian Dominionism And Collapse Of The FAILED White Supremacy Paradigm - Man Crushed To Death By Giant Crucifix Dedicated To The Pope!

April 24, 2014 - ITALY - An Italian man was crushed to death on Thursday by a giant crucifix dedicated to the late Pope John Paul II, just days before the Polish pontiff will be made a saint in a ceremony at the Vatican.


The man, named as Marco Gusmini, was posing for a photograph with a group of friends in
front of the 100ft-high cross when it suddenly collapsed
 Photo: NEWSFOTO

In a bizarre coincidence, the 21-year-old man was reported to have been living in a street named after Pope John XXIII – who will also be canonised in the ceremony on Sunday, in an event that is unprecedented in the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church.

The man, named as Marco Gusmini, was posing for a photograph with a group of friends in front of the 100ft-high cross when it suddenly collapsed.

A large, 20ft-high statue of Christ the Redeemer was attached to the crucifix, which was created for John Paul II’s visit to Brescia, in the northern region of Lombardy, in 1998.

It was subsequently removed from Brescia and re-erected in the mountain village of Cevo in 2005.

The massive cross was unusually shaped – it bowed and bent downwards and was held in place by steel cables.

In what one Italian newspaper called “a tragedy full of disturbing coincidences”, the victim lived with his parents in a town called Lovere in Via Papa Giovanni XXIII – Pope John XXIII Street. - Telegraph.



MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: As The Rain Keep Pouring Down, Seattle Sets Rainfall Record - Whopping 9.44 Inches In The Month Of March!

April 24, 2014 - SEATTLE, UNITED STATES -  February was among the wettest on record with 6.11" in Seattle. March did it one better and smashed the all-time rain record with a whopping 9.44 inches.


Photo courtesy: Mike Mclaughlin

While April likely won't make those lofty heights (11th wettest on record), when combined with the soggy February and March, they make quite the rain trio.

It's now the wettest February-to-April on record in Seattle, with 19.33" as of Thursday and more is on the way. The old record was 18.97 inches set in 1972.

The relatively dry January will likely prevent us from setting the wettest four-month start to a year, currently at 23.03 inches -- 5th wettest, but well behind the all-time record of 26.21 inches set in 1972.


WATCH: Spring Rain In Seattle.

 


Also, Seattle is nearing another rather obscure but amazing rainfall statistic: Another 0.76 inches of rain and Seattle could then go bone dry the entire rest of the year -- we're taking zero rain not just in the summer but through October, November, and December; a 200+ day consecutive dry streak -- and it would not go down as the driest year on record. That was 23.78 inches in 1952.

Long range forecasts do keep showers at times through the end of the month, although none of the days look as wet as what we've gone through the last few days. - KOMO News.



THE THEATRE OF WAR: The Ukrainian Crisis - Putin Warns Of Consequences As Ukraine Steps Up Offensive!

April 24, 2014 - RUSSIA - President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine against continuing its anti-separatist offensive after government troops killed five rebels and prompted Russia’s military to begin new drills on the two nations’ border.


A member of the Ukrainian special forces takes position at an abandoned roadblock in the eastern Ukrainian
city of Slavyansk on April 24, 2014. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

“If it’s true that the current regime in Kiev sent the army against citizens inside its country, then it is a very serious crime against its own nation,” Putin said today in St. Petersburg. “It will have consequences for the people who make such decisions, including relations between our countries. We’ll see how the situation develops and we’ll make conclusions based on the reality on the ground.”

Ukrainian Interior Ministry and army troops destroyed three road blocks as they fought pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region city of Slovyansk, the ministry said today on its website. Russia’s latest drills are a response to events in eastern Ukraine and involve warplanes near the border, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, according to Interfax.

An agreement to disarm rebels signed last week in Geneva by Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the U.S. is on the brink of collapse. President Barack Obama said today the U.S. and its allies have additional sanctions against Russia ready to go because Putin’s government has yet to abide by the accord.

Russia’s Micex Index (INDEXCF) fell for a fourth day, losing 2.2 percent and taking its decline since Putin’s intervention in Crimea started March 1 to 10 percent.

IMF Loan

After rallying on the prospect of an International Monetary Fund loan, Ukrainian bonds fell. The Washington-based lender’s staff endorsed a $17 billion bailout that may get board approval April 30, according to government officials. The yield on the government’s dollar-denominated note due April 2023 rose 0.03 percentage point to a month-high 10.09 percent.


Ukrainian special forces take position in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 24, 2014.
Photographer: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

“Ukraine is at risk of a foreign invasion, or a civil war, or both at the same time,” Czech President Milos Zeman said today at a meeting of east European leaders in Prague. “The older among us experienced something similar about 20 years ago in Yugoslavia.”

After an operation to rein in the separatists resumed this week, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said security forces cleared the mayor’s office in Mariupol, less than 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Russian border. There were no casualties, he said on his Facebook page.

Ukrainian troops also repelled an attack by about 70 gunmen on a military base in Artemivsk, north of Donetsk, during the night, Avakov said. One soldier was wounded.

‘Successful’ Operation


Acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov called the operation to counter the separatists “successful” and said it would continue. In a live television address, he urged Russia to pull back its forces from his nation’s border.

“Russia has switched from public threats to concentrating its forces on our eastern border,” Turchynov said. “There’s an increasing number of troops, who’ve been threatening our country for some time.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky said in Washington that while a Russian invasion is possible, Ukraine is prepared. The ministry later said Russia should explain its latest military drills in the next 48 hours.

An attack on a Russian citizen is an attack against Russia and “if we’re attacked, we’d certainly respond,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday in an interview with state-run broadcaster RT. Speaking in Moscow today, he called on Ukraine to pull back its army, stop “illegal actions” and disarm the nationalist Pravyi Sektor group.

‘Serious Question’


The offensive in the east is “criminal” and raises a “very serious question” about planned May 25 presidential elections called to help end the nation’s political crisis, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in St. Petersburg.

Turning up the economic heat on Ukraine, Russia’s state-run OAO Gazprom presented the nation with an additional $11.4 billion bill for gas it promised to buy last year.

The U.S. has been preparing for the prospect of further sanctions against Russia, Obama said today.

Russia has yet to act in the spirit or the letter of the Geneva agreement, and if there’s no progress in the coming days, “we will follow through,” he told a news conference in Tokyo. All that’s required is some “technical work” and coordination with allies, he said.

The U.S. joined the EU in imposing sanctions after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last month. “Already you’ve seen a whole lot of money and investors leave Russia,” Obama said.

‘Legitimate Actions’


French President Francois Hollande told reporters in Paris that unless the Geneva deal was implemented fully, “we would by necessity have to apply the sanctions as planned by Europe.”

The EU didn’t criticize the Slovyansk operation. While calling on “all parties” to live up to the Geneva pledges, EU spokesman Michael Mann told reporters in Brussels that the Kiev government has the “right to take legitimate actions to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Ukraine’s SBU State Security Service pledged yesterday to use “all means” to restore order in the east. As many as 1,300 separatists were involved in holding government buildings in the Donetsk region, according to the SBU.

The government in Kiev accuses Putin of instigating turmoil to possibly lay the groundwork for an invasion. The separatists who took over buildings in eastern Ukrainian cities say they’re not subject to the Geneva accord.

Troop Approval


Putin has parliamentary approval to deploy troops in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers and those of Russian heritage. He has about 40,000 troops massed on the border with Ukraine, according to NATO.

The Russian exercises announced today are “exactly opposite of what we have been calling on the Russian’s to do, which is to de-escalate the situation, so we again call on them to act responsibly,” Army Colonel Steve Warren, a U.S Defense Department spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon.

“We have seen some movement associated with” Russia’s announcement “but it’s too early to tell what it is.” he said.

Obama stressed that there won’t be a “military solution” to the confrontation and held out the chance diplomacy will work. “There’s always the possibility that Russia tomorrow or the next day takes a different course,” he said. - Bloomberg.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Another Shoe Is About To Drop - ENTIRE TOWN In Wyoming Evacuated After UNEXPLAINED Explosion At Gas Plant?!

April 24, 2014 - WYOMING, UNITED STATES - A Wyoming explosion caused by a malfunction at a natural gas plant has caused an entire town to be evacuated, with officials still unsure what caused the blast.



The explosion took place Wednesday at roughly 2pm MDT at the Williams Gas Plant, located about five miles outside the town of Opal. The plant had to be shut down, though company spokeswoman Michelle Swaner said there were no injuries caused by the blast.

Officials at the plant are working to make arrangements for the roughly 100 people who live in the rural outpost and were displaced.

The cause of the Wyoming explosion is still under investigation, but officials believe they have narrowed it down to just a few possibilities.

"It's a big gas processing plant, it's huge, and we believe the fire and explosion occurred in our turboexpander... and we have five of them at that facility so the explosion and fire occurred in that area," Swaner said.

Wyoming has seen it share of disasters in the past month, though none have resulted in deaths. For the past several weeks, a landslide in Jackson Hole has been slowly devouring a town one business and home at a time.

This is not the first explosion at a gas plant. In March, a blast at Williams Natural-Gas Plan in Washington injured one worker, though Swaner clarified that Wednesday's explosion was "totally different."

Another Wyoming explosion in November left five workers injured, including one critically. The blast took place at Jonah gas field, where five of six condensate gas tanks exploded without warning. - Inquisitr.



PLANETARY TREMORS: Major Global Seismic Uptick - Powerful 6.7 Magnitude Earthquake Strike South Of Port Hardy, Canada! [MAPS]

April 24, 2014 - CANADA - A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck off the coast of Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island, but no major damage has been reported.


USGS earthquake location map.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was about 94 kilometres south of Port Hardy in the ocean and was at a depth of 10 kilometres.

Emergency Management B.C. says there is no tsunami warning for the West Coast, including B.C.

People in Port Hardy reported the ground shook for more than 35 seconds, and groceries fell off the shelves of the local Overwaitea store, said Global News.

Pamela Shea, who was working at the Airport Inn in Port Hardy, said feeling the rolling motion due to the quake was "pretty scary."

"Oh goodness, yes. Oh goodness, yes," she repeated when asked if she felt the quake. "My chair was rolling back and forth, the bottles were rattling."

"It was really kind of scary," Shelley Siemens, who lives in Port Hardy, told The Vancouver Sun. "I was in my bathroom and I have glass sliding doors — I thought they were going to come right out," said Siemens.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Two aftershocks of 5.2 and 4.0 magnitude were recorded in the same region within 30 minutes of the initial tremor.

"The couch was shaking and we watched the plant dance on top of the table," Port Alberni's Wes Michalenko posted on The Huffington Post B.C. Facebook page.

Other readers said they felt the tremor in Comox, Courtenay and Campbell River. Some people in Vancouver high rises reported feeling the buildings sway. Lesley Woodrow GIbson said she felt "slight movement" in downtown Vancouver. "Thought I was having a dizzy spell or something," she wrote.

Earthquakes are common off the B.C. coast, where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate meets the Pacific tectonic plate, but few are large enough to be felt by humans.

The most recent large quake was in October 2012, when a magnitude 7.8 quake shook the northern B.C. Haida Gwaii Islands. There was little damage and no tsunami was generated in that quake. - Huffington Post.



EARTH CHANGES: Monumental Signs Of The Times - Large Forest Fire Breaks Out In New Jersey Despite Cool Spring Temperatures; Massive Landslide Threatens Mont Blanc Tunnel In Italy; Grass Fires Total Over 400 In March Across South Wales Region Despite Cool Temperatures; 4.4 Earthquake In Slovenia, Italy Near Nuclear Plant; Large Wildfire In Dutch National Park; Severe Weather In India Claims 1 Life And Injures 120; Despite Cool Damp Spring, Fire Crews Tackle Nearly 300 Grass Fires In Wales; Floods In Serbia Prompt Evacuation Of More Than 400 Families; And Mammatus Clouds Over Israel!

April 24, 2014 - EARTH - The following stories constitutes some of the latest incidents of Earth changes across the globe.

Large Forest Fire Breaks Out In New Jersey Despite Cool Spring Temperatures


A forest fire continues to grow in Downe Township, Cumberland County, fanned by strong winds.

As of Thursday morning, officials said about 1500 acres have been consumed in a remote area of the Edward G. Bevan Fish and Wildlife Management Area.

So far, no structures or people have been threatened.

At least 50 firefighters were battling the blaze, which started Wednesday as a Red Flag warning went into effect in New Jersey.

Sam Moore from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service explains, "The Red Flag Warning is very serious. The slightest little spark or ember or any kind of hot source could ignite a catastrophic wildfire."

Moore, a section warden with the forest fire service, was on patrol Wednesday, one of several 2-man brush trucks roaming through the pinelands on alert during the Red Flag Warning.

Manning the observation tower eight stories above ground in Woodland Township was Ralph Wallen, who is constantly scanning the skies looking for fires.

Wallen told Action News, "You see a little puff of white smoke coming up and then we use this thing and get a compass reading on it."

The wind is fierce up on the tower at times making the danger clear. If a fire gets started, the wind will take it and move it like a freight train.

Section Fire Warden Tom Gerber said the wind "just has a ladder-like effect. It'll make these flame heights 50 to 60 feet high flame heights.... The conditions are as bad as they get."

The combination of strong winds, low humidity, and the abundance of dry leaves and branches that carpet the forest floor are what's creating the extreme fire danger. Similar conditions helped fuel a 2,000 acre blaze on April 6 and another in Salem, N.J. last weekend.

Fire officials are urging people to be cautious.

"We are limiting a lot of the agricultural burning and the campfires in campgrounds of state parks. Smokers please use your ashtray," Section Fire Warden Shawn Judy said.

Rosemarie Mason from the Outdoor Club of South Jersey says, "We usually have a big picnic with hamburgers and hotdogs, but because of fire regulations and what's going on with the weather we are going to have sandwiches instead." - ABC New Jersey.


Massive Landslide Threatens Mont Blanc Tunnel In Italy
Mont Blance tunnel entrance.
Christophe Jacquet

A series of landslides over the past few days have disrupted traffic near Courmayeur, a renowned tourist resort in the Italian Alps, forcing temporarily closure of Mont Blanc tunnel, local reports said on Tuesday.

Around 20,000 cubic meters of mud and rock fell on Monday night, while another estimated 400,000 cubic meters of earth were on the move triggered by rising temperatures.

Local authorities reportedly closed Mont Blanc tunnel, which links Italy and France, for about two hours as a result of the crashing rocks

Meanwhile dozens of citizens had to temporarily leave their homes while protection teams and volunteers were at work to clean roads and shore up protective barriers against further landslides.

After visiting Courmayeur on Tuesday, the head of Italian civil protection Franco Gabrielli told a press conference that the situation was "complex" not only for the "hundreds of thousands of cubic meters that will soon begin to fall, but especially because of a paleo-landslide of about 8-9 million cubic meters which has affected this area for 15 years."

He said that although it was not possible to predict when the paleo-landslide will fall completely, the renowned tourist resort was remaining "extremely safe." However, Gabrielli also added, the series of landslides was posing a threat to Mont Blanc tunnel because "an intermediate collapse would be enough to block international traffic for who knows how long."

The head of civil protection said that a total of 480,000 areas subject to landslides have been counted in Italy. But the real figure, he underlined, probably was of nearly two million areas, meaning that some 40 billion euros (55 billion U.S. dollars) would be necessary to secure the entire country. - Xinhua.


Grass Fires Total Over 400 In March Across South Wales Despite Cool Temperatures
The fire above Ogmore Vale. Alamy

Fire crews caught on camera dealing with more than 400 fires, many of them started deliberately, across many parts of South Wales

Huge areas of grass and shrubland are a sea of charred black today after a wave of deliberately set fires swept through huge chunks of the Welsh countryside.

These dramatic pictures show firefighters trying to deal with the grass fires, including one which at one point was six miles wide.

The lone firefighter walking through the charred scrubland sums up the battle fire crews have had to deal with since the start of the month.

From March 1, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service alone has attended 215 grass fires and 283 deliberately set fires across huge areas of land. There were another 35 deliberately lit grass fires in the South Wales Fire and Rescue area yesterday damaging over 198 hectares of Welsh countryside

One, at Pontsticill, Merthyr Tydfil, affected approximately 100 hectares of grass and scrubland on Monday.

Crews were sent to battle trees on fire near the reservoir in Pontsticill after being alerted to it at 10.39am and continued to be at the scene for several hours.

They then had to deal with a mountain fire in Waun y Pound, which was reported at 7.13pm.

The huge grass blaze at Pontsticill stretched up to six miles, with the fire being driven by high winds.

Fire crews battled through most of the day and worked with teams from Natural Resources Wales to bring the fire under control.

It is the latest in a number of fires that have come with the recent good weather.

The South Wales fire service was called to 40 grass fires on Sunday - and all but one of them was started on purpose.

One fire, near Nantymoel at the head of the Ogmore Valley, damaged seven hectares, as did another deliberately set fire at Cwmparc, near Treorchy.

The Cwmparc fire came close to setting stables and sheds alight.

A mountain fire above Asda, Merthyr Tydfil, which was visible in the Pant area from A465, burned over night on Saturday.

A fire near Tylorstown, in Rhondda, led to 27,999 calls and damaged five hectares.

By 7pm on Sunday, firefighters had spent 15 hours fighting fires set on purpose.

Head of South Wales Fire & Rescue Service's Fire Control Jennie Griffiths, who has been tweeting updates throughout, said: "Its not funny, its not clever + there are innocent victims."

On Sunday, a fire at Hengoed got very close to houses, while crews were also called to Mountain Ash, Abercynon, Merthyr, Cwmbran, Pontypridd, Bedwas, Tynewydd, Treharris, Ynyswen, Penrhys, Blaencwm, Abertysswg, Ynysyboeth and Cwm.

Last week, the team had deployed crews from the Fire Crime Unit in Caerau area of Maesteg after signs of deliberate fire setting.

A spokesman for the service said: "We have seen a significant rise in wildfire incidents across the organisation.

"The Fire Crime Unit proactively monitors all police and fire data from the previous night and then interrogates this data for incident trends.

"As a result of this interrogation of incident intelligence The Fire Crime Unit have deployed high visibility patrols across the area to deter and gather intelligence on the perpetrators, these patrols will run up to the services planned seasonal Easter Initiative 'Project Bernie' which aims to tackle such issues in the designated Bernie areas in RCT, Merthyr, Bridgend & Caerphilly Unitary Authorities.

Unfortunately this type of activity (Deliberate fire setting) is a common theme during this time of year and The Fire Crime Unit along with the South Wales & Gwent Police, and the Local Authorities are working hard in partnership to reduce and change behaviours to eradicate these acts of criminality." - Wales Online.


4.4 Earthquake In Slovenia, Italy Near Nuclear Plant
Krsko nuclear power plant AFP/Stringer

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake has struck Slovenia southwest of the country's capital, Ljubljana, at a depth of 12.4 kilometers, says USGS.

According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, the magnitude of the quake was measured at 4.5, with a depth of 2 kilometers.

The earthquake took place about 200 kilometers from a nuclear power plant at Krško, a town in eastern Slovenia. The plant is co-owned by Slovenia and Croatia.

The quake struck at about 11:00 local time (09:00 GMT).

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake hit about 5 kilometers northeast of the Slovene town of Ilirska Bistrica, 32 kilometers northwest of the Croatian city of Rijeka and 37 kilometers east of the Italian city of Trieste.

The Krško nuclear power plant, in the east of the country, has frequently been a cause for concern among scientists. On Friday, environmental activists from the Alpe Adria Green NGO signed a resolution against the construction of a second reactor at the plant, warning against the danger of earthquakes.

As Krško was built in an earthquake-prone area, Austrian geologist Heinz Hoegelsberger, a former consultant for Greenpeace and one of the longstanding opponents of the plant, says it is a time bomb that should be shut down as soon as possible.

"Regardless of geological data, the plant has been built in one of the most earthquake-prone areas of Slovenia. It was built in the wrong place," Hoegelsberger said. "According to US standards, Westinghouse shouldn't have been built near a fault."

In 2008, the plant survived a big mishap as there was a leakage from the primary cooling circuit with no radioactive emissions.

Though the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration said no radioactivity was released into the atmosphere, the European Commission set off an EU-wide alarm through the European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange (ECURIE). - RT.


Large Wildfire In Dutch National Park
Hoge Veluwe National Park

A large wildfire destroyed at least 530 hectares (1,300 acres) in the Netherlands' Hoge Veluwe National Park on Sunday, one of the worst fires seen in the region for decades, Dutch authorities said.

No injuries have been reported, according to Mayor Cees van der Knaap of the municipality of Ede, 65 kilometers (40 miles) east of Amsterdam, which oversees the park.

Military helicopters and firefighters from surrounding provinces have been summoned to assist in combating the fire, which has been difficult to control because of strong winds.

The park is home to the Kroeller-Mueller Museum, which houses a major collection of Impressionist art and 20th-century sculpture. Around 2,000 visitors were instructed to leave the park after the fire broke out around midday and the museum was closed.

Van der Knaap told a regional broadcaster the art is not in danger, but around 300 paintings have been brought to a fireproof area for safety.

A nearby highway has been closed and people who live near the park have been instructed to remain indoors because of smoke. - ABC News.


Severe Weather In India Claims 1 Life And Injures 120
A waterlogged road after the shower in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
Javed Raja

Even as the sudden heavy showers that lashed the city on Sunday evening brought much respite to people in Ahmedabad from the soaring heat, one person was reported to have been crushed to death under the weight of an uprooted tree at Nava Vadaj. At least 120 people have also been reportedly injured in separate incidents across the city.

Earlier in the day, the temperature in the city had touched 39.8 degree Celsius, according to the Met office. The downpour continued till late in the evening, leading to several mishaps across the city.

As many as 25 people were reportedly injured in 14 road accidents due to the heavy showers. This was besides the 10 who were injured due to falling of trees, according EMRI 108 service sources. Twenty cases of structural collapse also left around 60 people injured. This includes 10, who were hurt when a glass panel at the entrance of Devarc Mall on S G Highway crashed. Meanwhile, 25 more were reportedly injured in 16 cases of tin roof-flying, sources said. At least, eight to ten persons were stranded in a lift at Devarc Mall due to power failure. They have all been rescued, he said.

The strong gusty winds, thunderstorm and unexpected heavy rainfall during this time of the year not only left the residents awestruck, but also the weather department confused.

An average rainfall of 25 mm in two hours - from 6pm to 8 pm - along with high wind velocity resulted in several tree, besides hoardings and billboards, to get uprooted and fall across the city.

Over 100 incidents of tree-falling were reported from various parts of the city, with the maximum being from the western zone areas. Rescue calls of 50 trees uprooting and felling were received by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporations control room, followed by 13 from the eastern zone.

As many as 16 fire tenders had been sent out and were still on the road at the time of filing of this report. This also led to terrible traffic snarls in the western parts, including Shivranjani, Jivraj crossing and Vejalpur areas.

"Certainly this was unexpected at this time of the year, but there is nothing to be scared of as this is a local activity resulting from the heat.

Ahmedabad reported a maximum temperature of 39.8 degree Celsius on Sunday afternoon. Hence, an upper air cyclonic circulation was formed over the region. While with the rainfall temperature in Northern and Saurashtra areas will fall, some rainfall is still expected on Monday," said director of Ahmedabad's centre of Meteorological Department Jayanta Sarkar.

Meanwhile, a huge hoarding crumbled near Shivranjani cross road on Satellite Road, blocking the road and causing heavy traffic jam. However, no casualties were reported in this incident, according to additional chief fire officer Rajesh Bhatt, who was supervising removal of debris. The incident occurred at 9 pm, and it would take at least three hours to clear the road for traffic, he said. - Indian Express.


Despite Cool Damp Spring, Fire Crews Tackle Nearly 300 Grass Fires In Wales
Mid and West Wales fire crews were called into action to tackle a blaze on the Black Mountain at 7pm on Saturday.
The service has faced 200 grass fires during the month of April. 
Roger Vince

The latest grass fire to strike the Amman Valley raged for more than five hours on the Black Mountain on Saturday night before being brought under control by emergency crews.

Amman Valley firefighters based at Gwaun cae Gurwen were called to tackle the blaze, which began above Cwmgarw Road on the Black Mountain, following reports of the fire at 7pm.

The incident is just the latest in what has become an ever increasing problem for emergency services.

As well as taking up time and manpower, the grass fires are also proving a massive drain on financial resources.

In the month of April alone, Mid and West Fire Service were called in to deal with 282 grass fires at a cost though to be approaching £1,000,000.

The cause of the blaze, which started near Upper Brynaman, is yet to be confirmed and no serious damage was done despite early concerns that the flames were moving towards a residential cottage.

Crews attended the scene and were able to extinguish the fire at midnight, however the incident was just the latest in a worrying trend which is only likely to worsen as summer approaches.

Mid and West Wales arson reduction team manager Steve Richards "Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has attended a total of 282 grass fires since the beginning of April alone. We are working closely with the police to actively target areas where deliberate fires are a nuisance." - South Wales Guardian.


Floods In Serbia Prompt Evacuation Of More Than 400 Families


Flood waves on several rivers and their tributaries in Serbia have prompted the evacuation of at least 440 families in the last two days, leaving thousands of people without water and power supply.

An emergency situation has been declared in five municipalities, but there have been no casualties. The damage caused by the floods that have hit parts of the western, central and eastern Serbia is not possible to estimate until the rivers recede.

Serbian Ministry of the Interior official Predrag Maric told reporters that firefighter and rescue services were in the flooded areas, adding that water supply in several towns and in some settlements was being made difficult by problems in the power grid.

Following heavy rain- and snowfalls in the country, river levels have been rising for the third day in a row, and landslides have closed several local and major roads.

A new flood wave is expected in the Western Morava River due to a temperature rise and the melting of snow in western Serbia. Maric said the current situation was also due to the poor maintenance of drainage canals, a problem which he said had been present for several decades.

A snowfall which in the last few days has hit western Serbia, with drifts as high as 70 centimetres, has caused extensive damage to growers of raspberries, one of Serbia's most profitable farm export products.   - CBC.


Mammatus Clouds Over Israel
Haifa covered with 'breast clouds'.
Gilad Har Sheleg

Professor Hadas Saaroni, a climatologist from Tel Aviv University explained how these uniquely shaped clouds are formed.

"They get this shape when clouds are formed in an altitude of four kilometers. Under this higher layer of air there is air that is rather dry. When these clouds rain onto a dry layer, the rain instantly evaporates and the round shape of these clouds is formed.


Breast clouds` over Nahariya.
Rativo family

Breast clouds` over Shlomi.
Arcadi Hayat

Breast clouds` over Kibbutz Dafna.
Shlomi Dadon


"While most of the rain doesn't make it to the ground because it evaporates on the way down, the rain that does penetrate through washes the dust that came in with the winds, and turns into mud-rain," Saaroni explained.

Shlomo Uberman, of Meteo-tech meteorological services, added that "these clouds are created as a result of an active jet stream which is currently taking place in our region and causing rainfall. An active jet stream is a flow of medium and high altitude winds. These clouds can be usually seen during transition seasons." - YNET News.



GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes And Landslides Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Massive Sinkhole Opens Up In Burlington, Iowa; Yet Another Large Sinkhole Opens Up In Dunedin, Florida; Sinkhole Swallows Man In New York City; And Another Huge Sinkhole Threatens Two Homes In Florida! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

April 24, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The following stories constitutes some of the latest incidents of sinkholes and landslides across the United States.

Massive Sinkhole Opens Up In Burlington, Iowa
WQAD


A massive sinkhole, around seven feet deep, appeared on a main road in Burlington Wednesday. Officials say a two-inch hole in an underground pipe, a water main break, caused the sinkhole.

"A lot of people are interested in it," resident Savanna Evans said. "A lot of people are taking pictures. You see it all over Facebook right now."

The sinkhole is right at the border of Burlington and West Burlington on Mount Pleasant Street.

"I drive on this street every day on my way to work, right there where this hole is," resident David Francis said.

"It does affect traffic," business owner Randy Wagler said.

Residents say they are surprised to see it.

"I kind of looked down, and was like, 'That's a big hole you've got there, mayor,'" Evans said.


 WATCH:  Massive sinkhole appears on Main Road in Burlington.




"That's a big enough hole, I think my car would fit inside there," Francis said.

The Burlington Municipal Waterworks is in charge of fixing the street. Distribution supervisor Shane Johnson says this problem could have gone unseen for a long time.

"We probably didn't know about it," he said. "It could have been happening for a long time. We don't know."

He says the city gets a lot of water main breaks, but not too many sinkholes. Residents say there was a pretty big one last year that took some time to fix. They say they're happy to hear that this one won't take too long.

"We fixed the water main," Johnson said. "Now, tomorrow, we'll fix the storm drain, pour some concrete, put some gravel in, and start putting the street back. So, it should be done tomorrow or the next day."

Although traffic was affected, local shop owners say their businesses were not. - KWQC.


Another Large Sinkhole Opens Up In Dunedin, Florida
A large hole reported in the parking lot of San Christopher Villas in Dunedin is now believed to be a sinkhole.


A large hole reported in the parking lot of San Christopher Villas in Dunedin is now believed to be a sinkhole, according to the Dunedin Fire Department.

Initially, Dunedin Fire referred to the hole as a "roadway collapse." But after checking underground pipes and finding them intact, the opening is now believed to be a sinkhole.

The hole opened up in a parking lot in the 1300 block of Powderpuff Drive, about a mile away from where a serious sinkhole opened up in November 2013. It's 10 feet by 10 feet across and about 10 feet deep.

Crews are going to fill the hole and it does not appear to be increasing any more at this time. No homes have been evacuated, although cars have been moved away from the hole as a precaution. - WTSP.


Another Large Sinkhole Opens Up In Dunedin, Florida
A Bronx man claims he was playing football and swallowed by a sinkhole, but authorities have their suspicions. Jabbari Douglas

Talk about a fall guy.

Investigators from several city agencies are trying to get to the bottom of how a man wound up in a large sinkhole on a Wakefield street this week.

This Bronx tale began on Monday about 1:30 p.m. when a 6-foot section of the road suddenly collapsed into a 5-foot-deep hole large enough to swallow a medium-sized car in front of 658 E. 234th St.

Jabbari Douglas, 17, said he was standing outside his home when he suddenly heard the ground collapse and heard the sound of someone yelling for help.

"I heard this very loud dropping noise, of the street going down," said Douglas, a student at nearby East Bronx Academy.

People gathered around the pit, marveling at the sudden sinkhole and several called 911 and 311 to alert authorities.

Inside the pit was a 23-year-old man, whose identity is being withheld by DNAinfo. He was screaming in pain and yelling for medical aid.

"My leg! My leg!" he howled, according to witnesses.

His screams grew even more piercing when arriving paramedics tried to carefully lift him out of the hole before he was whisked to Jacobi Hospital to be treated, witnesses said.

Authorities say the man told them he was playing in a touch football game, had just caught a pass and was turning to run toward the goal line when the road opened, sending him hurtling into the hole.

A couple of the man's pals supported his story, but his account is being questioned because several other witnesses stepped forward telling firefighters and police a very different version of events.

Two of these witnesses talked to "On The Inside." They said the man did not topple into the void.

"He was sitting on a porch with some other guys and they started horsing around," a young woman told "On The Inside."

"He started rolling around next to the hole and they were actually videoing it with his iPad."

She claimed that the sound of the fire truck sirens prompted the young man to start "yelling in extremely agitated pain and then he climbed down into the hole, screaming, 'My leg. My leg ... someone get my football.'"

A middle-aged woman who also witnessed the incident said the young man and his pals were directing traffic around the hole before he decided to get into it.

"He was standing next to a car saying he was hurt, but then when he heard the sirens he put one leg into the hole, and then another, and then suddenly he was into covering himself with dust," she said, saying she did not want her name used for fear of retribution.

"When firefighters took him out, he was yelling and screaming, but it was an act," she added.

Sources say the NYPD received at least one 911 call in which a resident reported the pavement collapse, but also that "the man put himself in the hole, he did not fall in."

The man told paramedics he had a "leg injury." He was taken by ambulance to Jacobi Hospital, but sources say the hospital has no record of treating him.

Fire marshals and police are investigating the episode.

Attempts to reach the man were not successful.

Meanwhile, the city's Department of Environmental Protection determined the sinkhole resulted from a busted sewer line that it has subsquently replaced along with the roadbed and pavement, according to spokeman Chris Gilbride. - DNA Info.


Another Huge Sinkhole Threatens Two Homes In Florida
Two vacant homes threatened by a huge sinkhole in Villages neighborhood, Sumter County, Florida on April 20, 2014WFTV

OMG! This monster sinkhole almost swallowed two homes on Chalmer Terrace in the Villages in Sumter County, Florida on April 20, 2014.

The huge sinkhole measures about 50-foot wide and threatens two vacant houses in central Florida. It was created by heavy rains during the Easter week-end.


WATCH: Huge sinkhole endangers Florida.

 


 - Strange Sounds.



THE WAR ON MOTHER NATURE: The Gobal Food Crisis - Almost ONE-FIFTH Of China's Farmland Is POLLUTED, According To A Government Report!

April 24, 2014 - CHINA - Almost one-fifth of China's farmland is polluted, according to a government report released this week. Officials have acknowledged the country's problems with water and air pollution, but the extent of soil contamination has been a closely guarded "state secret," for fear of incriminating certain provinces or companies.


It's not easy balancing economic development and the environment. Reuters

About 19.4% of China's farmland is polluted by cadmium, nickel and arsenic, according to the seven-year study that analyzed a little over half of China's entire land area. One-fifth of China's total arable land is about 26 million hectares (64 million acres), the same area as the United Kingdom, by the most recent estimates.

The pollution is concentrated around the Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas - key sources of water in the country and home to millions of people - as well as in parts of the south where much of China's rice is grown. Last year, half of all samples of rice in Guangzhou were found to have poisonous levels of cadmium, a chemical that can cause kidney failure when ingested. The main causes are agriculture and industry, the report said. (Farmers contribute to soil pollution with their use of fertilizers and pesticides and improper disposal of animal waste.)

Why officials chose to release the results isn't clear. Authorities have recently admitted environmental mistakes, like the existence of villages near industrial plants where cancer rates have soared, which they had long denied. Still, the soil study results may be optimistic. In December, an official said 3 million hectares of Chinese farmland are now too polluted to even grow crops on. Other estimates of China's soil pollution are as much as 40-70% of total land, as we've noted before.

The worst part may be that the brunt of pollution is borne by villagers, whose farmland and animals are closest to the factories and mines that release contaminants. They are also the most likely to be punished for protesting. Last week, a school teacher in Hunan province was given three years in prison (paywall) for organizing a protest against a local chemical plant. One reason may be that local governments often depend upon these factories or other industrial projects for revenue. - QZ.



FIRE IN THE SKY: "Cosmic Roulette" - Astronauts Warn That "We Are Literally In A Shooting Gallery," Works Toward Building "Sentinel" Telescope To Detect Potentially Hazardous Asteroids!

April 24, 2014 - SPACE -  As members of an elite band of cosmic explorers, they are among the few to have gone beyond the final frontier and looked down on the Earth from space.


Former US astronauts are behind an early warning asteroid strikes project.

Now, inspired by the unique perspective they gained of their home planet - and armed with startling new data about the scale of the threat it faces from asteroid strikes - a group of former Nasa astronauts is on an extraordinary mission to save the world.

Fourteen months after a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on a scale equivalent to 30 Hiroshima bombs, the B612 Foundation, a non-profit group founded by the Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and the space shuttle astronaut Dr Ed Lu, is warning that only "blind luck" has so far saved us from worse.

"It's a giant game of chance we're playing. It's cosmic roulette," said Lu, whose group is working towards building and launching Sentinel, a US$250 million ($292 million) telescope that would spot space rocks on a collision course with Earth, giving years or even decades of notice to deflect a disaster.

"There's a saying in Vegas that 'the house never loses'. It's true; you can't just keep playing a game of chance and expect to keep winning," added Lu, the group's chief executive officer.

"Data obtained since the Chelyabinsk incident by Dr Peter Brown, a planetary scientist and asteroid expert at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, reveals that since 2001 the Earth has been rocked by atomic bomb-scale asteroid impacts 26 times; 10 times more frequently than previously thought."

Today, which is Earth Day, the B612 Foundation will hold a press conference to unveil more critical details, including a video presentation that will reveal the locations and sizes of the multi-kiloton impacts.

"We are literally in a shooting gallery," said Schweickart. "That's the message we want people to understand. It's happening, it's ongoing, and the big ones will come. It's just a matter of when."

The Chelyabinsk asteroid ripped through the Earth's atmosphere as a 67,600km/h fireball, exploding nearly 30km above the ground. It damaged 7200 properties in six cities and injured 1500 people across a 40km radius.

Astronomers' attention was to have been focused that day on another asteroid - a 45m-wide rock called DA14, which had been identified through ground-based tele-scopes one year previously as being on a "near miss" trajectory.

Just 16 hours before DA14 made its closest approach, passing by the planet at a distance of 27,680km, came Chelyabinsk's unexpected visitor, a 19m wide rock weighing more than the Eiffel Tower.

It had gone undetected for years because it came from the same direction as the Sun's glare, making it impossible for ground-based optical telescopes to see it.

Sentinel, due to launch in 2018, will be positioned up to 273 million km from Earth, near Venus, from where its lenses would point away from the Sun. In the first month of operation alone, it is expected to detect and track more than 20,000 near-Earth asteroids, exceeding the discoveries made by all other telescopes combined over the past 30 years.

In 6years, it will make an inventory of 98 per cent of near-Earth asteroids; the current detection level is only 1 per cent.

Schweickart, who as an astronaut on Nasa's Apollo 9 mission in 1969 played a role in paving the way for man's first landing on the Moon, co-founded the B612 Foundation and now serves as chairman emeritus.

The group worked on designing technologies to deflect asteroids from collisions with Earth, before launching the Sentinel early warning project. The failure by the US government to do the job itself irks Schweickart.

"Scientific projects such as understanding that there's an ocean under the ice on Europa is a really wonderful thing, but it shouldn't compete in terms of government funding priorities with ensuring the safety and security of people here on Earth," he said. - NZ Herald.