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SCIENCE FILE

Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

February 22, 2001

Quake Water

Deep underground water channels were opened by the massive magnitude 7.9 temblor that struck India's western state of Gujarat last month. Media reports, based on satellite images of the region, have speculated that the Jan. 26 quake caused either the mythical, subterranean Saraswati River or the Indus River, which disappeared after an earthquake in the 19th century, to resurface. Water gushed from holes in normally arid ground near the community of Nehar, about 20 miles from the quake-devastated city of Bhachau. The village is a cluster of about 40 homes located on the fringes of the Rann of Kutch Desert. Unlike the brackish water local farmers find by digging, the new water is sweet tasting.

Congo Fever

Congo fever, one of Africa's most feared diseases, was diagnosed in a slaughterhouse worker in Cape Town, South Africa. The illness is transmitted by the variegated tick, and humans can also contract the disease through contact with blood from cattle. Western Cape health authority Nick Koornhof reported that the patient was being closely monitored in an isolation ward at Groote Schuur Hospital and that there was no threat to either hospital staff or the public.

Earthquakes

At least 274 people in El Salvador died in a massive aftershock that struck exactly one month after a magnitude 7.6 temblor laid waste to the country. One-fifth of all homes in El Salvador were damaged or destroyed by the two temblors.

Earth movements were also felt in China's Sichuan province, Sumatra, Japan's Izu island chain, northeastern India and neighboring parts of Bangladesh, northern Pakistan, eastern Turkey, northwestern Greece and coastal areas of Southern California.

Deadly Asian Winter

Hundreds of thousands of cattle have died in heavy snow and subfreezing temperatures that have plagued Mongolia and China's northwestern province of Xinjiang this winter. Millions of people in the region are in the midst of the second catastrophic winter in a row as temperatures often plunge to as low as -43 degrees Fahrenheit and snowdrifts as much as 40 inches deep leave vast areas inaccessible to rescue crews.

Defense Monkey

India's defense chiefs have taken the extreme measure of employing a fearsome warrior monkey to fend off attacks by hordes of other monkeys at New Delhi's government center, where they have harassed visiting diplomats and dignitaries. Fed up with the daily assaults, officials contacted the 18-year-old trainer and owner of "Mangal Singh" to drive off the marauding rhesus monkeys. "When the monkeys saw my Mangal Singh for the first time, they just ran away," said proud monkey owner Gul Khan. Khan receives 5,000 rupees ($108) every month from the foreign ministry to patrol the grounds for eight hours each day. This may be only a temporary solution as it is expected that the rhesus monkeys will eventually get used to the Mangal Singh and resume their raids. About 2,000 monkeys live in an area of central New Delhi's government complex.

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