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SCEINCE FILE | Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

New Romanian Spill

May 04, 2000

Warnings of yet another mining pollution disaster were issued by the Romanian government after it was discovered that a leak had occurred at a waste storage pond containing huge amounts of various materials, including heavy metals. The leak followed three previous spills of cyanide and heavy metals from gold mining operations in northern Romania into the Tisza River during February and March, causing a large-scale ecological disaster. The newly discovered seepage from a 250-acre storage pond in the city of Abrud has contaminated underground water sources as well as the nearby Aries River with chemical and biological pollutants.

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Earthquakes

The western Turkish city of Honaz was jolted by two earthquakes, causing panic among residents and minor damage to buildings. Earth movements were also felt in Sardinia, Japan, Russia's northern Sakhalin Island , north-central Argentina, southern Peru, the California-Mexico border region, the Adirondack Mountains of New York and around Washington state's Mt. Rainier.

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Drought Breaker

Hundreds of people in the drought-stricken Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan danced in the streets and offered prayers in Hindu temples as unseasonable heavy rains hit the parched region. Rain fell for the first time in eight months near the city of Pokhran in the desert state of Rajasthan. Almost 8,000 communities have been affected by the worst drought in 100 years and at least 100 of the 143 reservoirs in the districts of Saurashtra, Kutch and north Gujarat have dried.

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Twisters

At least 19 people in northeastern Bangladesh were killed and 1,000 others injured by a tornado and hailstorms that leveled a string of communities. Dozens of residents were missing in the wake of the violent weather that swept through the region. The twister destroyed more than 2,500 homes, toppled trees and disrupted power and telephone service in the worst-hit city of Netrakona, about 175 miles northeast of the capital, Dhaka. Several areas of the American Midwest and Southeast were raked by severe storms and tornadoes. Six twisters ripped through Shreveport, La., damaging at least 20 homes, injuring seven people and shattering windows of downtown businesses.

Lion Cull

Nearly 200 Kenyan lions were culled from the Aberdare National Park by the Kenya Wildlife Service last week in an effort to protect the rare bongo antelope, which is nearing extinction. The population of the endangered, spiral-horned antelope has recently fallen to 100. The Aberdare and Mt. Kenya forests are the only remaining sanctuaries for the bongo. The Wildlife Service reported it was alarmed at the high breeding rate of lions in the Aberdare Range, which also left other species such as the rhinoceros and the giant forest hog at risk.

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