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SCIENCE FILE

Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

May 20, 1999

War Pollution

Authorities in Belgrade have banned fishing in the Danube River because of pollution caused by NATO's bombing of nearby chemical plants. Yugoslav officials have deemed the situation an "ecological disaster." The neighboring Tamis River has also been declared off limits to fishermen. Eating fish caught in either river can be extremely dangerous to human health, according to the country's public health officials.

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Cloning Proposal

Scientists believe they can use cloning to bring back the legendary Tasmanian tiger, thought to be extinct for more than 60 years. Australian Museum Director Michael Archer says a live clone could be created from DNA taken from a preserved baby tiger found in a basement storage room in the museum. The 133-year-old specimen was mistakenly preserved in alcohol, rather than Formalin, which would have destroyed the DNA used for cloning purposes. The tiger was driven to extinction by hunters who considered the animal a threat to their livestock.

*Tornado Season

At least six people were injured and another left missing after a series of tornadoes struck central Texas. The worst-hit area was the region near the Mason-Llano county line where several homes and buildings were damaged. A swarm of tornadoes that lashed Cuba's Matanzas province claimed five lives and destroyed 550 homes, the country's Radio Rebelde reported.

*Hawaii Landslide

A deadly landslide that tore through a lush Hawaii state park killed seven people and injured at least 50 others. Dozens of people were sunning themselves on Mother's Day near a 90-foot waterfall in Sacred Falls State Park on the northeast coast of the island of Oahu when boulders came crashing down.

*Earthquakes

At least 27 people were killed and hundreds of others injured after a powerful earthquake followed by 50 aftershocks rocked southern Iran. Most of the victims were buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings in several cities of the southern Fars province.

Earth movements were also felt in Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Japan's Hokkaido Island.

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*Bee Spill

A truck carrying millions of bees overturned on a Maine highway, leaving its cargo buzzing around the wreckage and closing down the roadway for nearly eight hours. "There was one big swarm of bees over the truck, like a big black cloud," said Patrolman Edward Roberge of the police department in Falmouth, Maine, where the accident took place. Firefighters sprayed the scattered hives with water to calm the bees as they loaded the spilled containers onto another truck.

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

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