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SCIENCE FILE | Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

August 01, 1996

Fierce Floods

The death toll from floods that have ravaged central and southern China in recent weeks climbed to more than 1,400. Authorities in Hubei province mobilized an additional 3 million people to flank the 3 million soldiers and civilians who are maintaining a network of flood walls and dikes along the Yangtze River.

Areas in metropolitan Chicago recovered from some of the worst flooding on record, which forced the citys to send diluted sewage directly into Lake Michigan for the first time in six years.

In Quebec, 10 people died in floods in the northern part of the province that forced 10,000 others to evacuate their homes.


At least one person was injured and 43 buildings were damaged by a magnitude 6.6 temblor that rocked northern areas of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Southwestern Kenya was also rattled by a rare temblor.

Andean Drought

A 5-month-old drought in the Ecuadorian province of Loja has forced more than 3,000 people to abandon their parched homeland in the Andes Mountains near the Peruvian border. The dry season, which normally begins in August, could now last until November, according to a report in the daily El Comercio de Quito.

Tropical Waves

Huge ocean waves generated by a tropical depresion south of Tahiti damaged 400 houses and washed out roads in French Polynesia. Tides 17 feet higher than normal hit the shores south of Papeete and Moorea, as well as several atolls of the Tuamotu Islands. The storm also triggered high waves at Southern California beaches.

Etna Eruption

Renewed activity within Sicily's Mt. Etna sent streams of molten lava spilling from the volcano's northeast crater. The lava flowed several hundred yards down the mountain, providing a dramatic display of natural pyrotechnics visible for miles.

Tropical Storms

Typhoon Frankie brought torrential rains and high winds to China's Hainan Island and killed 14 people whiel passing over northern Vietnam.

The northern Philippines was dealt a glancing blow from tropical storm Gloria, which strengthened to typhoon force just off the coast of Luzon.

Gloria went on to drench Taiwan and parts of eastern China already reeling from severe floods. Tropical storm Herb formed over the Mariana Islands, and was heading for southern Japan late in the week.

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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