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SCIENCE FILE / An exploration of issues and trends
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Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

April 08, 1999

Earthquakes

The worst temblor to strike northern India this century killed more than 110 people and leveled villages in the lower reaches of the Himalayan Mountains. The initial quake was followed by numerous powerful aftershocks, and also unleashed landslides that tore through some remote communities.

Earth movements were also felt along the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border, and in southwest Iran, Japans Izu Peninsula, northwest Greece, northern Venezuela and southern coastal Chile.

Frog Roadblock

Police in the southern Czech region of Moravia closed a busy road to give local frogs safe passage to their mating areas. Traffic was diverted along a pond near the town of Brno, located 125 miles southeast of Prague, to protect the amorous amphibians from being killed by passing vehicles. Hundreds of frogs are killed in the Czech Republic each spring while migrating to mating areas. A special frog tunnel was opened in north Moravia last year to reduce the number of deaths.

Bangladesh Twister

Two people were killed, 60 injured and thousands of others left homeless after a tornado ripped through scores of villages in northern Bangladesh. The 20-minute twister blew down thousands of mud huts, uprooted trees and knocked down telephone and electricity poles in the Panchagarh district, located about 215 miles north of the capital, Dhaka. Nearly 100,000 people were left homeless by the disaster just three days before Bangladeshis celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

Nile River Deaths

Floating carcasses of fish, hippos and crocodiles in the Nile River of southern Sudan have alarmed local residents and baffled government officials. Residents in the town of Juba believe the rivers polluted waters are causing the deaths.

Sino Drought

China is experiencing its worst drought in more than a decade with 19 million residents lacking drinking water and more than 21. 5 million acres of farmland parched. The country has received very little rainfall since last September. The drought immediately followed one of the worst summer flooding seasons on record last year.

Crazy Ants

Killer ants on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean are decimating the islands crab population. The ants have killed 3 million crabs during the past 18 months by digging into the crabs burrows where they kill and eat them. The crazy ants, so called because of their frenetic movements, are attacking the crab population at a phenomenal rate, according to Monash University ecologist Dennis ODowd. The crazy ant, or Anoplolepis gracilipes, was probably introduced to the island by West African traders about 50 years ago.

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Additional Sources: U.S. National Earthquake Information Center and the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.

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