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Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

July 06, 2000

Australian Twister

A family of five was yanked from its home in the Australian town of Fairy Dell by a small tornado that tore through the area. The youngest child, a 17-month-old baby, was ripped from its highchair and pulled through a window. The twister eventually deposited the entire family in a field about 60 feet from the house. All five family members were treated for minor injuries caused by impact and flying debris.


A magnitude 4.5 earthquake hit the historic city of Rome, shaking tiles and plaster from buildings and sending frightened residents fleeing into the streets of the Italian capital.

Earth movements were also felt in northern Greece, southern Iran, Japan's southern Kyushu Island, northern Arkansas, western Montana and parts of Southern California.

Chilean Tempest

At least seven people in central Chile were killed and nine others were missing in violent storms that lashed the region with high winds and heavy snowfall. Lowland areas were flooded and many mountainous areas were blanketed in snow. Authorities reported that numerous roads were blocked and more than 5,000 people had been left homeless by the winter tempest.


Seismic tremors continued to shake the Japanese island of Miyakejima as residents awaited the possible eruption of Mt. Oyama volcano. Nearly 70% of the island's population has been evacuated to safer areas since a volcano alert on June 26.

Reunion Island's Piton de la Fournaise volcano exploded on June 23, sending lava flows that reached to within a half mile of the main highway on the east coast.

Sino Invasion

Chinese officials have employed 10 aircraft and 90,000 pieces of machinery in a spraying program designed to eradicate locusts that have swarmed over millions of acres of farmland. Agricultural officials reported that the locusts had been brought under control in a number of provinces, and that about two-thirds of the insects had been wiped out in the worst-hit areas in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of northwest China. Experts blamed the plague on dry weather and migration of the locusts from neighboring countries.

South African Spill

As many as 6,000 penguin chicks in South Africa's Robben Island nature reserve were contaminated by a thick layer of oil that drifted onto a formerly pristine stretch of coastline near Cape Town. At least 1,300 tons of the fuel oil seeped from a ship that sank just offshore on June 23.

Lassie to the Rescue

A 12-year-old dog named Lassie saved a sleeping family in England from a fire that was engulfing their home. The scrappy mixed-breed dog barked until she was hoarse, then bit the 25-year-old son and dragged him from the chair in the living room where he had fallen asleep. The heroic canine led him to the front door as he crawled through the smoke while alerting his parents who were sleeping upstairs.

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