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Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

September 07, 2000

Volcanoes

Japanese authorities ordered the entire population of Miyakejima Island to evacuate out of fear of further eruptions from Mt. Oyama volcano, and subsequent slides of mud and ash. Officials in Tokyo prepared evacuation centers and shelters in vacant city housing for the displaced residents. Miyakejima, about 100 miles south of the capital, has been jolted by tens of thousands of earthquakes as well as volcanic eruptions during the past two months.

Italy's Mt. Etna volcano erupted again with fountains of lava, as well as a rain of ash over the Sicilian city of Catania. The lava flowed from the volcano's youngest crater on the southeastern flank and threatened no inhabited areas.

West Nile Virus

An 84-year-old Israeli man died of complications of West Nile virus, the same disease that has afflicted five people in the New York City area this year. Israel's Health Ministry reported that it is working to increase its mosquito-spraying programs to stop the spread of the disease. West Nile virus is widespread in the Middle East and many people there have suffered mild cases that have left them with lifelong immunity.

Dolphin Hero

A 14-year-old boy was saved from drowning off the southern Italian coast by a well-known dolphin nicknamed Filippo that has lived in the region for years. The boy and his father hit rough weather as they were sailing a small boat in the Adriatic Sea near the gulf of Manfredonia. The boy, who did not know how to swim, was thrown overboard. As he was sinking beneath the surface of the water, he reported, he felt something push him up. He said, "When I realized it was Filippo, I hung on to him." Filippo pushed the boy up to the surface and then gently nudged him back toward his father's boat.

Rogue Tide

A freak high tide submerged an entire island community off the coast of Bangladesh beneath 6 feet of water on Aug. 30. Nearly 10,000 people on Sandwip Island were forced to rush to cyclone shelters on higher ground as the water gushed into their homes.

Tropical Cyclones

Powerful typhoon Prapiroon skirted the Chinese mainland near Shanghai after forming over the Pacific to the east of the Philippines. The storm was taking aim at the Korean Peninsula late in the week.

Tropical storm Maria formed off the coast of Hong Kong, then drifted around the South China Sea before moving ashore in China's Guangdong province.

Tropical Storm John formed briefly in the open waters of the Pacific.

Earthquakes

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake rumbled through the Napa Valley, injuring about 40 people and knocking out power lines.

The most powerful quake to strike Australia's Victoria state in years awakened residents from Melbourne to the southeastern tip of the country.

Earth movements were also felt in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia's Maluku Islands, the Greek island of Lesbos, Colombia and the Idaho-Utah border.

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