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Science File | Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

Indonesian Smoke Clouds

July 16, 2001

Smoke from forest fires on Indonesia's island of Sumatra began wafting over several southern Thai provinces, sparking fears that an environmental disaster similar to the one that occurred in the region several years ago may be looming. The smoke, which originated from blazes used by farmers to clear land, has also spread to western Borneo and Malaysia's capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Tropical Cyclones

Typhoon Utor brushed Taiwan and roared ashore on mainland China near Hong Kong. At least three people were killed and 4,700 homes were damaged in Guangdong province. Tropical storm Trami, the third to strike Taiwan in less than a month, brought heavy rains and storm-force winds as it lost strength over the island's high terrain. Trami later made landfall on China's Fujian coast.

Deadly Sino Landslide

At least 14 people were buried alive and seven others left missing in a landslide triggered by torrential rains in China's southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. Week-long rains saturated a hill that slid, burying several homes in a suburb of Kunming. Local authorities reported that almost 1,400 homes had been destroyed or damaged in the storms, and that total economic losses were estimated at $4.3 million.

Earthquakes

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit southwestern China's Yunnan province, leveling at least 12 buildings near the city of Chuxiong.

An infant was killed and a number of homes destroyed in southern Peru when an aftershock of the disastrous June 23 temblor struck the same region. At least 26 people were injured by falling debris.

A strong tremor that struck eastern Turkey's Erzurum region injured 75 people, most of whom leaped from windows and balconies during the shaking. Earth movements were also felt around the Philippine capital of Manila and in Taiwan, the Alaska Panhandle and Salt Lake City.

Etna Eruption

Italy's Mount Etna Volcano exploded with columns of ash that soared 2,000 feet into the Mediterranean sky. Lava flowed into a nearby valley, but officials said no residential areas were in danger. The eruption coincided with a recent increase in seismic activity and is part of an ongoing eruptive phase.

Euro Storms

One of many severe storms that swept across five European countries killed 11 people at a music festival in the city of Strasbourg, France. At least 35 others in northern Italy were injured when a tornado ripped through an area north of Milan. Storm deaths were also reported in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. In Paris, flash flooding prompted the evacuation of 150 people from their homes near the Eiffel Tower.

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