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Science File | Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

May 02, 1996

Insect Invasion

Millions of cockroaches, locusts and grasshoppers have invaded the southern Iranian town of Baft, making life miserable for residents, the official IRNA news agency reported. The insects thrived after record rains fell in recent months and now swarm through the streets of the town, 350 miles southeast of Tehran. Environmental expert Mohammad Naderi said pesticides were being sprayed to combat the invasion.

Spring Twisters

Parts of several U.S. states and south-central Ontario, Canada, were struck by tornadoes spawned by almost daily outbreaks of severe thunderstorms. One of the hardest-hit areas was western Arkansas, where a tornado killed four people and caused extensive damage in Fort Smith.

A twister sweeping across southern China's Gunadong province destroyed about 600 homes, killing at least six people and injuring 30.

Wildfires

Mongolia pleaded for international assistance to help out 37 huge fires devastating tinder-dry forests and pasturelands in the north of the country. More than 7 million acres have been blackened by the fast-moving flames. The destruction of such vast areas will force mass evacuations of herders who rely on grazing livestock for their livelihoods.

Firefighters in southern Bangladesh successfully controlled a wildfire in the Sundarban mangrove forest that had threatened royal Bengal tigers and other species for three days. The fires were started by honey collectors who use kerosene torches to scare away bees.

Tun Destruction

A severe freak storm raging along the coast of Southern Australia killed about 60,000 tuna being raised on commerical farms. Tuna Boat Owners Assn. President Brian jeffriess said the storm ws so sever "we had substantial mortalities from the first shock, then reduced levels of oxygen in the waters from stirred- up sediment ws enough to cause a whole second tier of fish to die." The Southern bluefish tuna died of shock and suffocation at the coastal resor tof Port Lincoln, a loss amounting to two-thirds of the region's stock. The fish were being raised primarily for export to Japan.

Earthquakes

Beijing was rattled by a rare magnitude 3.2 tremor that was centered just outside the Chinese captial.

Earth movements were also felt in northeastern Japan, the northern Philippines, Azerbaijan, eastern Romania, northern Argentina, the Aleutian Islands, Massachusetts and parts of Central California.

Additional Sources: U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the World Meteorological Organization.

Copyrighted: 1996 Chronicle Features

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