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/ A Diary of the Planet


April 23, 1998

Northeastern Iran was struck by a devastating earthquake that wrecked more than 600 houses and killed at least 12 people. the magnitude 5.9 temblor shook dozens of villages in remote Khorasan province and was followed by powerful aftershocks.

At least 11 people died when a magnitude 5.0 temblor hit a remote area of eastern Turkey. In northeast China, a moderate tremor shattered windows and toppled walls when it struck they city of Tangshan.

Earth movements were also felt in the Alps, eastern Romania, Costa Rica, Japan, Los Angeles, West Texas and South Carolina.

Atlantic Tempests

One of the most intense storms to strike England this century caused severe flooding that killed four people. Snow, rain and gale-force winds lashed much of Britain, but the hardest-hit area was the English Midlands, where officials reported the worst inundations in living memory. A freak April snowstorm immediately followed the torrents, bringing a light dusting of snow to London, and heavier amounts elsewhere in the country. The blizzard was in sharp contrast to a relatively mild and snowless winter.

Red Tide

The Hong Kong government began tackling an outbreak of "red tide" as the Chinese port was still reeling from the "bird flu" plague that threatened both the human and poultry populations. the algae bloom has killed more than 1,500 tons of fish in jus the past few days--about half the amount of fish bred in Hong Kong's coastal waters during the last year.

It is estimated that the fishing industry will lose nearly $31 million as a result of the massive kill.

Texas Health Alert

Health officials in Texas warned travelers venturing south of the border that they risk infection from an epidemic of rubella. The disease sickened more than two dozen people after they returned from a visit to Mexico. Approximately 300 people have come down with the disease in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

"Mad Bee" Disease

The French government has launched an investigation into an outbreak of what's being referred to as "mad bee" disease--a malady that is killing millions of honeybees in the west of the country. Beekeepers say the insects are becoming disoriented and failing to return to their hives after pollinating sunflowers. The disease first appeared last summer and is being blamed on the increased use of pesticides, which some beekeepers say destroys the insect's sense of direction. It is estimated that 60% of the famed honeybees in the region have perished since last June. Agricultural authorities in the affected areas have suspended the use of the suspected pesticide Gaucho, which was in introduced in 1994.

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

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