Monday, April 26, 2010

6.9 magnitude quake strikes off Taiwan

Posted: 26 April 2010 1133 hrs

TAIPEI : A strong 6.9 magnitude quake struck southeast of Taiwan Monday, the US Geological Survey said, but no tsunami warning was immediately issued.

The quake, which could be felt as far away as Taiwan's capital Taipei, hit at 10:59 am (0259 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) with an epicentre 269 kilometres off the eastern city of Taitung, the USGS said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, according to the interior ministry's fire agency.

"The quake hit pretty far out at sea, but we'll keep monitoring," an official with the agency told AFP.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, which uses a different measure from the USGS, gave the magnitude of the quake as 6.6.

- AFP/il

Saturday, April 24, 2010

6.4 magnitude quake hits Indonesia

Posted: 24 April 2010 1621 hrs

JAKARTA - A 6.4-magnitude quake hit Indonesia's North Maluku province Saturday, the local Meteorological and Geophysics agency said, but there were no immediate reports of damage and no tsunami alert was issued.

The quake struck at a depth of 30 kilometres (18 miles) 155 kilometres (95 miles) southeast of the town of Labuha at 14:41 pm (0741 GMT), according to the agency.

"The quake occurred in the sea. No tsunami warning was issued," the agency's earthquake analyst Subagiyo, who goes by one name, said.

"The quake was felt in nearby islands, such as in Ternate," he said.

Labuha meteorological agency station chief Djoko Sumardiono said there were no reports of damage in the area.

"We only felt mild tremors. There was no panic here," he said.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity. - AFP/vm

Friday, April 23, 2010

6.1-magnitude quake jolts central Chile

Posted: 23 April 2010 1920 hrs

WASHINGTON : A 6.1-magnitude quake on Friday rocked the central region of Chile which was hit by the massive February 27 tremor, the US Geological Service said.

The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 1003 GMT, was 65 kilometres (41 miles) south (172 degrees) of Concepcion, Chile, the USGS said. Concepcion is a university town and Chile's second largest city.

The 8.8-magnitude February 27 quake - one of the largest on record - struck off Concepcion, triggering a local tsunami. At least 452 people were killed and the disaster caused some 30 billion dollars in damage. - AFP/ms

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Biggest quake in 50 years closes Australia's 'Super Pit'

Posted: 20 April 2010 1214 hrs

PERTH : The biggest earthquake in 50 years struck Western Australia's Goldfields region on Tuesday, damaging buildings and closing the massive "Super Pit" gold mine, officials said.

Hundreds of workers were evacuated from the vast open-cast facility, the area's biggest employer, and the underground Mount Charlotte operation after the 5.0-magnitude quake hit just outside the Kalgoorlie-Boulder mining towns.

But nobody was reported hurt in the quake, which left some streets littered with bricks from damaged buildings and rattled residents at around 8:17 am (0017 GMT).

"It was going for about a good 20 seconds and we've felt several aftershocks, so we might not be in the clear yet," Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper journalist Nick Rynne told Sky News.

Police cordoned off parts of Boulder, a remote town about 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of Perth, and mine operator KCGM said Super Pit and Mount Charlotte would be closed for several hours.

"The evacuation is purely a precautionary measure," a spokeswoman told AFP. "We haven't sustained any damage and all personnel are safe.

"But we do have our geotechnical team there at the moment, assessing the situation."

Emergency officials were unable immediately to confirm reports that schools and a hospital were evacuated and that a damaged house caught fire after the earthquake.

"If there was structural damage to a building the people inside would
probably have been brought out," a Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) spokesman said.

Residents also said holes had appeared in some roads. The worst-hit buildings were historic structures in the centre of Boulder, which sprang up in the wake of Australia's 1800s Gold Rush.

"We're living in this big mining area. There's a big hole here and there's underground tunnels everywhere," local resident Annie Fowler told Sky.

A spokesman for Geoscience Australia said the quake, at a shallow depth of just 10 kilometres (six miles), was the worst seen in the remote region for at least half-a-century.

"This is quite a large earthquake for Australia and a shallow, potentially damaging, earthquake," he said. "It's the largest event in this area in the last 50 years."

USGS measured the quake at 5.2 but Geoscience Australia pitched it as a magnitude 5.0 and said it would have been felt within a 168 kilometre radius.

- AFP/il

Monday, April 19, 2010

Toad is a telltale for impending quakes: scientists

AFP - Wednesday, March 31

PARIS (AFP) - – For ages, mankind has craved a tool that can provide early warning of that terrifying moment when the earth begins to shake.

But if a scientific paper published on Wednesday is confirmed, we may at last have found one.

The best hope yet of an earthquake predictor could lie in a small, brown, knobbly amphibian, it suggests.

The male common toad (Bufo bufo) gave five days' warning of the earthquake that ravaged the town of L'Aquila in central Italy on April 6, 2009, killing more than 300people and displacing 40,000 others, the study says.

Biologist Rachel Grant of Britain's Open University embarked on a toad-monitoring project at San Ruffino lake, 74 kilometres (46 miles) north of L'Aquila, 10 days before the 6.3-magnitude quake struck.

Her two-person team observed the site for 29 days, counting toad numbers and measuring temperature, humidity, wind speed, rainfall and other conditions.

By March 28, more than 90 male toads had mustered for the spawning season, but two days later, their numbers suddenly fell, Grant reports.

By April 1 -- five days before the quake -- 96 percent of the males had fled.

Several dozen ventured back on April 9 for the full moon, a known courtship period for toads, although the tally was some 50-80 percent fewer than in previous years.

After this small peak, the numbers fell once more, only picking up significantly on April 15, two days after the last major aftershock, defined as 4.5 magnitude or higher.

In addition, the number of paired toads at the breeding site also dropped to zero three days before the quake. And no fresh spawn was found at the site from April 6 until the last big after-tremor.

Grant says the toads' comportment is a "dramatic change" for the species.

Once male toads hole up at a breeding site, they usually never leave until the annual spawning season is over, she notes.

Eager to answer the riddle, Grant obtained Russian measurements of electrical activity in the ionosphere, the uppermost electromagnetic layer in the atmosphere, which were picked up by very low frequency (VLF) radio receivers.

The toads' two periods of exodus both coincided with bursts of VLF disruption.

Previous research has attributed perturbations in the ionosphere to releases of radon, a radioactive gas generated underground, or to gravity waves prior to a quake, although much about this phenomenon is unclear.

In the quest to find an earthquake predictor, elephants, horses, wolves, snakes and fish have all been variously put forward.

This study, though, is exceptional. It puts the flesh of data and first-hand observation on the bones of anecdotal evidence, even if there is no confirmed explanation as to why the toads bolted as they did.

"Our study is one of the first to document animal behaviour before, during and after an earthquake," says Grant.

"Our findings suggest that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of early warning system."

The paper is published in the Journal of Zoology by the Zoological Society of London.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hundreds dead in China quake, state media reports

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 14, 2010 -- Updated 0653 GMT (1453 HKT)

(CNN) -- Some 300 people are feared dead after a rapid series of strong earthquakes hit a mountainous and impoverished area of China's Qinghai province early Wednesday, state-run media said.

The Xinhua News Agency reported 8,000 others were injured and many victims, including primary schoolchildren, were buried under debris.

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake, as measured by the U.S. Geological Survey, struck at 7:49 a.m. local time (7:49 p.m. ET Tuesday), when people were probably still at home and schools were beginning the day. The USGS also recorded several strong aftershocks -- one of magnitude 5.8 -- all within hours of the initial quake.

Xinhua reported panic on the streets as crews launched rescue efforts in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

"We have to mainly rely on our hands to clear away the debris as we have no large excavating machines," police officer Shi Huajie told the Xinhua News Agency. "We have no medical equipment, either."

A Chinese military official told Xinhua that the death toll was expected to rise, given the damage to homes.

He said dispatched soldiers were setting up tents and transporting oxygen for the injured but affected roads leading to the airport could hamper relief efforts.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs plans to distribute 5,000 tents, 50,000 coats and 50,000 quilts to the earthquake zone, Xinhua said.

The epicenter was located in remote and rugged terrain, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Qamdo, Tibet. Qinghai borders the autonomous regions of Tibet and Xingjiang and the provinces of Gansu and Sichuan.

Given the landscape, rescue efforts are sure to be "challenging," said Francis Markus, of the International Federation of the Red Cross. He spoke with CNN from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, which experienced its own tragedy in May, 2008, when a magnitude-7.9 earthquake killed roughly 70,000 people.

"But China does have a lot of experience and a lot of resources," he said. "The capability is there. It's just a question of getting it to this remote spot."

Xinhua said the quake hit the prefecture of Yushu, a Tibetan region of Qinghai with about 80,000 people.

More than 85 percent of the houses in the county seat of Jiegu, had collapsed, a prefecture official told Xinhua.

"Many are buried in the collapsed houses, and there are still lots of others who are injured and being treated at local hospitals," he said.

Xinhua said residents near the epicenter also reported casualties and collapsed buildings.

Karsum Nyima, deputy director of news at local Yushu TV, told Xinhua that most of the houses in the area were made of wood with earthen walls. He said some had come tumbling down, including a Buddhist pagoda in a park.

In 2008, 70,000 people died when a 7.9 earthquake rocked neighboring Sichuan province, northwest of its capital, Chengdu

Qinghai province
Population: 5 million
People: 44 ethnic groups, including Tibetans and Mongols
Average elevation: Over 3,000 meters above sea level
Geography: Qilian Mountains, the Qingnan Plateau and the source of the Yangtze, Mekong and Yellow Rivers
GDP: US$3.2 billion; average GDP per capita US$639
Industries: Agriculture, hydropower, oil and natural gas

Source: China Internet Information Center

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Strong quake in western China's Qinghai kills 67


BEIJING – Chinese authorities say a strong earthquake in a western province has killed at least 67 people. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake measured a magnitude of 6.9.

The China Earthquake Administration announced the initial death toll in a brief statement on its Web site, saying that Wednesday's quake had caused many houses to collapse.

Rescue efforts were hindered by telecommunications problems, with phone lines down

Monday, April 12, 2010

Earthquake hits southern Spain; damage said unlikely

(CNN) -- A strong earthquake struck near the Spanish city of Granada early Monday, but at a depth that made damage to the medieval Moorish capital unlikely, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck at 12:08 a.m. local time Monday (6:08 p.m. Sunday ET), the USGS reported.

It was centered about 24 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of Granada and about 370 kilometers (230 miles) south of Madrid, Spain's capital.

There was no immediate report of damage or injuries from the temblor. The quake's recorded depth of 616 kilometers -- nearly 400 miles -- means little damage is likely, geophysicist Susan Potter told CNN.

"When an earthquake is deeper, the seismic energy is absorbed by the Earth," Potter said. "So there will be less damage expected in the epicenter area."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Panic as major quake hits Indonesia

AFP - 2 hours 6 minutes ago

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP) - – A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra early Wednesday, triggering widespread panic and tsunami warnings but causing no major damage.

The quake struck Aceh province at the northern tip of Sumatra, an area devastated by the massive Asian tsunami of 2004, and set off wave alerts for waters off Sumatra and Thailand.

Seventeen people were injured, four critically, when houses collapsed near the epicentre of the quake in Sinabang, on Simeulue Island off the northwestern coast of Sumatra, officials said.

Residents of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, said they felt the earth shudder with frightening intensity for about a minute at around 5:15 am (2215 GMT Tuesday).

Many fled their homes or piled on to motorcycles to head inland in fear of destructive waves, but a tsunami warning issued by the Indonesian government was lifted about two hours later.

"I was sleeping when the quake struck. I woke up my wife and my two kids and all of us hopped onto the motorcycle and headed to higher ground," said Agus, 30, who lost his mother and two siblings in the 2004 disaster.

"I saw my neighbours were all panicking too. It brought back bad memories of the 2004 tsunami... I don't want to go back yet because my house is too near the sea."

The quake struck at a depth of 46 kilometres (29 miles), according to the US Geological Survey. Indonesian geologists said the epicentre was 60 kilometres southeast of Sinabang.

Electricity was down in Banda Aceh but mobile phones were working.

The people of Aceh are still traumatised by memories of December 26, 2004, when the Indian Ocean surged over the northern tip of Sumatra after a 9.3-magnitude quake split the seabed to the island's west.

Indonesia was the nation hardest hit, with at least 168,000 people killed out of more than 220,000 who lost their lives across the region.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said sea level readings indicated a tsunami was generated in waters off Sumatra but it was not destructive.

The threat was assumed to have passed two hours after the quake, although shipping and coastal structures still faced the danger of strong currents, it added.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed relief that the quake did not produce a killer wave.

"Thank God the quake didn't cause a tsunami and the damage was minimal," he told reporters before leaving for a regional summit in Vietnam.

The National Disaster Warning Centre in Thailand issued a tsunami warning for the Andaman Coast, where an estimated 5,400 people were killed in 2004, but cancelled the alert when only small waves were generated by quake.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity.

The Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates converge off the western coast of Sumatra and scientists believe it is only a matter of time before a major catastrophe strikes the area again.

"The quake was due to a collision of the Indo-Australian and Eurasia plates, the same as in 2004," Indonesian geophysics and meteorology agency official Suharjono told AFP.

"There's still instability at the plate boundaries. We can't predict if another big quake will happen here after today but we'll continue to monitor the situation."

He said there had been at least four aftershocks.

A 7.6-magnitude quake killed about 1,000 people in the port of Padang, western Sumatra, in September last year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Baja California quake magnitude raised to 7.2

Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 22:40:39 UTC
Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 15:40:39 Local

By CHRISTOPHER WEBER, Associated Press Writer Christopher Weber, Associated Press Writer – 27 mins ago
LOS ANGELES – Seismologists have raised the preliminary magnitude of an earthquake in northern Baja California from 6.9 to 7.2.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones says the new magnitude of the 3:40 p.m. Sunday earthquake is still an estimate.

The quake centered south of California's border with Mexico was widely felt, swaying buildings as far away as San Diego, Los Angeles and Arizona.

There has been no confirmed damage, but some power outages were reported in southern Arizona and Tijuana, Mexico. Jones says any damage would likely have occurred closer to the epicenter such as in the Mexican city of Mexicali or in U.S. border cities.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A strong earthquake south of the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday swayed high-rises in downtown Los Angeles and San Diego and was felt across Southern California and Arizona, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.

The 6.9 magnitude quake struck at 3:40 p.m. in Baja California, Mexico, about 19 miles southeast of Mexicali, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The area was hit by magnitude-3.0 quakes all week.

The quake was felt as far north as Santa Barbara, USGS seismologist Susan Potter said.

Strong shaking was reported in the Coachella Valley and Riverside, Calif. The earthquake rattled buildings on the west side of Los Angeles and in the San Fernando Valley, interrupting Easter dinners. Chandeliers swayed and wine jiggled in glasses.

In Los Angeles, the city fire department went on "earthquake status," and some stalled elevators were reported. No damage was reported in Los Angeles or San Diego.

One woman called firefighters and said she was stuck in an elevator descending from the 34th floor in a building in Century City, but there was no way to immediately know if the breakdown was tied the quake, Los Angeles firefighter Eric Scott said.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says there are no power outages anywhere in the city, spokeswoman Maryanne Pierson said.

The quake was felt for about 40 seconds in Tijuana, Mexico, causing buildings to sway and knocking out power in parts of the city. Families celebrating Easter ran out of the homes, with children screaming and crying.

Baja California state Civil Protection Director Alfredo Escobedo said there were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage. But he said the assessment was ongoing.

In the Phoenix area, Jacqueline Land said her king-sized bed in her second-floor apartment felt like a boat gently swaying on the ocean.

"I thought to myself, 'That can't be an earthquake. I'm in Arizona,'" the Northern California native said. "And I thought, 'Oh my God, I feel like I'm 9 years old.'"

A police dispatcher in Yuma, Ariz., said the quake was very strong there, but no damage was reported. The Yuma County Sheriff's Office had gotten a few calls, mostly from alarm companies because of alarms going off.

Mike Wong, who works at a journalism school in downtown Phoenix, said he was in his second-floor office getting some work done Sunday afternoon when he heard sounds and felt the building start to sway.

"I heard some cracking sounds, like Rice Krispies," coming from the building, he said. "I didn't think much of it, but I kept hearing it, and then I started feeling a shake. I thought, 'You know what? I think that might be an earthquake."

Wong said the swaying lasted for "just a few seconds," and he didn't notice any damage.

An earthquake also hit in Northern California Sunday afternoon. The U.S. Geological Survey says a quake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.0 was recorded at 3:49 p.m. about 25 miles north of Santa Rosa.

A dispatcher with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said the agency had not received any calls for service after the quake.


Associated Press Writers Andrew Dalton and John Antczak in Los Angeles, John S. Marshall in San Francisco, and Matt Reed and Katie Oyan in Phoenix contributed to this report.