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SCIENCE FILE | Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

July 11, 1996

Hurricane Damage

Hurricane Bertha bashed the Caribbean, killing at least six people, then churned through the Bahamas on Wednesday on its way toward the U.S. coastline. On its Caribbean rampage Monday and Tuesday, damage was surprisingly light, although the 460- mile- wide hurricane ripped off roofs, slashed power and telephone lines and uprooted trees.

Hurricane Boris lashed Mexico's southern coast near Acapulco, killing one boy and leaving hundreds of people homeless less than a week after hurricane Alma swept through the same area. Heavy rains produced when Boris formed near Costa Rica triggered mudslides that killed four people along the country's Pacific coast.

Final Refuge

Noise, air pollution and poaching are threatening the survival of the Asiatic lion in its sanctuary in western India's Gir forests. Only 200 to 300 of the animals are left in the wild, and they are moving to the edge of the forest, disturbed by the increasing presence of humans. This makes theme say prey for poachers, who sell lion paws for chains and necklaces, and for villagers who poison the animals to protect their livestock.

Meteor Impact

A meteor weighing about 53 pounds and measuring 12 inches in diameter fell on a farm in northwestern India but caused no injuries. News reports quoted witnesses who heard a thundering roar followed by three flashes of light. Later, they found the large, dark and stony object lying in a 24-inch- deep pit.

Floods

At least 141 people died and dozens more were missing after flooding in southern and eastern China. The hardest- hit region was Guizhou, where 100 people perished.

The flood death toll in Yemen reached 338. More than 22,000 others were made homeless by flooding, which started in mid-June in the eastern provinces.

Earthquakes

A strong aftershock of a devastating temblor that struck southwest China on Feb. 3 killed one person and injured eight others in Yunan Province.

Earth movements were also felt in Tibet, Indonesia's Irian Jaya Province, the central Philippines, southern Greece, Austria and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fish Death

A Brazilian fisherman choked to death near the remote Amazon city of Belem after a fish unexpectedly jumped into his mouth. Nathon do Nascimento was fishing by the Maguari River, about 30 miles south of Belem, when the 6- inch- long fish suddenly leapt out of the river and became lodged in Nascimento's throat while he was in the middle of a long yawn. Two other fishermen tried to help him, but by the time they arrived at a local hospital it was too late."The fish obstructed his throat completely and he couldn't pull it out because he couldn't reach the tail," a doctor said.

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

Copyrighted 1996 Chronicle Features

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