Thursday, November 21, 2013

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Global Food Crisis - The "Worst Ever" Locust Plague Descends On Australia's Grain Growing Region!

November 21, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Australian Plague Locusts are swarming in parts of Western Australia's grain growing regions.


Locusts destroy Wheatbelt lawns Photo: Australian Plague Locusts are
destroying gardens in the Wheatbelt. (Felicity Sinclair)

Bill Cowan farms 300 kilometres east of Perth and says the locust swarms are the worst he's ever seen.

He says locusts have eaten lawns and gardens in his area, and were a concern when he was harvesting his grain, as they were appearing in grain samples.

"If you're walking on the ground, they just about cover the ground," he said.

"They're always heading one way. Once they get a bit bigger they start to fly. We've had whole grilles in cars block up for people who are travelling through."

Mr Cowan says many bowling clubs in the Central Wheatbelt are concerned about the plagues of locusts arriving in towns and eating bowling lawns. - ABC News Australia.



FIRE IN THE SKY: The Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike Was A Wake Up Call For The World - Part Of An "Unexpected Twist" Of Anomalously High Incidence Of Twenty-Yard Long Rocks Hitting The Earth, Indicating That Asteroids Could Hit The Planet In Waves!

November 21, 2013 - SPACE - Consumer video cameras and advanced laboratory techniques gave scientists an unprecedented opportunity to study the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February. The explosion was equivalent to about 600 thousand tonnes of TNT, 150 times bigger than the 2012 Sutter's Mill meteorite in California.

A Wake Up Call For The World.


"If humanity does not want to go the way of the dinosaurs, we need to study an event like this in detail," says Qing-zhu Yin, professor in the department of earth and planetary sciences at University of California, Davis.

Saying it was a "wake-up call," Yin says the Chelyabinsk meteorite, the largest strike since the Tunguska event of 1908, belongs to the most common type of meteorite, an "ordinary chondrite." If a catastrophic meteorite strike were to occur in the future, it would most likely be an object of this type.

"Our goal was to understand all circumstances that resulted in the damaging shock wave that sent over 1,200 people to hospitals in the Chelyabinsk blast area that day," says Peter Jenniskens, meteor astronomer at SETI Institute.
Their findings are published in the journal Science.

Based on viewing angles from videos of the fireball, researchers calculated that the meteoroid entered Earth's atmosphere at just over 19 kilometres per second, slightly faster than had previously been reported.

Sunburn

"Our meteoroid entry modelling showed that the impact was caused by a 20 metre-sized single chunk of rock that efficiently fragmented at 30 km altitude," says Olga Popova of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The meteor's brightness peaked at an altitude of 29.7 km (18.5 miles) as the object exploded. For nearby observers, it briefly appeared brighter than the sun and caused some severe sunburns.

The team estimated that about three-quarters of the meteoroid evaporated at that point. Most of the rest converted to dust and only a small fraction (4,000 to 6,000 kilogrammes, or less than 0.05 per cent) fell to the ground as meteorites. The dust cloud was so hot, it glowed orange. The largest single piece, weighing about 650 kilogrammes, was recovered from the bed of Lake Chebarkul in October by a team from Ural Federal University led by Professor Viktor Grokhovsky.
(A meteoroid is the original object; a meteor is the "shooting star" in the sky; and a meteorite is the object that reaches the ground.)

Widespread Damage

Shockwaves from the airburst broke windows, rattled buildings and even knocked people from their feet. Popova and Jenniskens visited over 50 villages in the area and found that the shockwave caused damage about 90 kilometres (50 miles) on either side of the trajectory.

The shape of the damaged area can be explained by the fact that the energy was deposited over a range of altitudes.
The object broke up 30 kilometres above under the enormous stress of entering the atmosphere at high speed. The break-up was likely facilitated by abundant "shock veins" that pass through the rock, caused by an impact that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago. These veins would have weakened the original meteoroid.

Yin's laboratory carried out chemical and isotopic analysis of the meteorites and Ken Verosub, professor in the department of earth and planetary sciences, measured the magnetic properties of metallic grains in the meteorite. Doug Rowland, project scientist in the Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging in the department of biomedical engineering, contributed X-ray computed tomography scanning of the rock.

Violent History
Put together, these measurements confirmed that the Chelyabinsk object was an ordinary chondrite, 4,452 million years old, and that it last went through a significant shock event about 115 million years after the formation of the solar system 4,567 million years ago. That impact was at a much later date than in other known chondrites of the same type, Yin says, suggesting a violent history.

Jenniskens calculates the object may have come from the Flora asteroid family in the asteroid belt, but the chunk that hit the Chelyabinsk area was apparently not broken up in the asteroid belt itself. Researchers at the University of Tokyo and Waseda University in Japan found that the rock had been exposed to cosmic rays for only about 1.2 million years, unusually short for rocks originating in the Flora family.

Chelyabinsk belonged to a bigger "rubble pile" asteroid that broke apart 1.2 million years ago, possibly in an earlier close encounter with Earth, Jenniskens speculates. The rest of that rubble could still be around as part of the near-earth asteroid population.

Major meteorite strikes like Tunguska or Chelyabinsk occur more frequently than we tend to think, Yin says. For example, four tonnes of material were recovered from a meteor shower in Jilin, China in 1976. "Chelyabinsk serves as unique calibration point for high energy meteorite impact events for our future studies." - Free Press Journal.




Cloudy, With A Chance of Meteors.


Earlier this year, on the chilly morning of February 15th, a thirteen-thousand-ton meteor screamed above the Ural Mountains before exploding in an airburst seventy-six-thousand feet above Chelyabinsk, Russia. While the destruction caused by the shock wave was immediately clear—over a thousand people injured, thousands of buildings damaged—the scientific fallout is still manifesting. Combined with other evidence spanning the past twenty years, new reports indicate that we should rethink our notions of how frequent, and how destructive, events like this are.

The Chelyabinsk meteor’s dramatic entrance is just one piece of a story that begins deep in our past. We live among the flotsam and jetsam of a great storm that peaked four and a half billion years ago. In that storm—a slow-motion tempest of swirling gas and dust—Earth emerged as a rocky, metal-rich glob of agglomerated matter, coated with a thin veneer of atmosphere and water. Throughout its history, our planet has suffered sporadic bombardment by the remains of that tumultuous period, from the pitter-patter of microscopic rocks that burn up in the atmosphere to gargantuan asteroids that reset the global environment.

By human standards, the largest collisions are few and far between. The last time a six-mile-wide rock hit the planet was sixty-five million years ago, when it thundered into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, creating a hundred-mile-wide crater. The climatological fallout contributed to the mass extinction of not just the dinosaurs but also some seventy-five per cent of all animal and plant life.

Impact events, as they are known, are much more frequent with smaller objects. We can expect mile-wide asteroids as often as every few hundred thousand years or so; when it comes to rocks about ten yards across, we get hit at least once a year. For our relatively recently developed human civilization, the problem lies between these sizes: every few thousand years, a boulder a hundred yards across can hit with the explosive force of more than fifteen hundred megatons of T.N.T.—enough to wipe a small country off the map. If the smaller Chelyabinsk meteor had come in above a city like New York, it would have injured many more than the twelve hundred it did in Russia.

Despite astronomers’ herculean efforts to detect and map all the potential threats—a catalogue of so-called Near Earth Objects now stands at just over ten thousand—we’re still unsure about the number of Chelyabinsk-sized bodies and how often they hit us. So while it wasn’t very nice for the Ural region, this explosive event has provided a remarkable wealth of new data.

Three new papers, published in the journals Nature and Science, provide fresh details about the Chelyabinsk meteor. Because no one was expecting the meteor, the majority of the data collected is thanks to our species’ narcissistic tendencies. In the studies published by Nature and Science, the researchers made ingenious use of public video footage from smartphones and security cameras to reconstruct the meteor’s trajectory as it tore a hundred mile path through the dawn sky at a speed of forty thousand miles per hour. Video footage also indicated the intensity of the meteor’s light, while audio tracks revealed the timing of sonic booms and the airburst shock-wave arrival. This feat of clever detective work confirmed that the thirteen-thousand ton, twenty-yard-long object exploded with a destructive energy thirty times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, while recovered fragments showed that it was already highly fractured before hitting our atmosphere—a fact that allowed three quarters of it simply to evaporate at high temperature, preventing significantly greater destruction than had it remained intact all the way to the ground.

Researchers now believe that this rocky mass is likely a broken-off sibling of a mile-and-a-half-wide asteroid known as 1999 NC43, which periodically but usually benignly crosses Earth’s orbital path. This is unfortunate, because it means that other pieces of 1999 NC43 could be trailing in similar orbits, toward Earth. If these siblings are of similar size, we’ll be hard-pressed to spot them until they’re exploding in our skies. And, while previously we’d thought that objects the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor hit us once every hundred and fifty years or so, the researchers report that the methods commonly used for estimating the bulk sizes of objects hitting us may have been skewed.

Infrasound—ultra-low-frequency sound—detectors across the globe are used as part of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty’s monitoring technology, to catch illicit bomb tests. The same detectors can also pick up the pulse of atmospheric meteor events, and have been used to estimate the power and rate at which they happen. The Chelyabinsk hit was the most powerful infrasound event ever recorded by this system. With this data in hand, the scientists have dug back into the monitoring records, and have reevaluated the methodology used to estimate the power of meteor explosions. They found what appears to be a discrepancy in our previous estimates of how often objects this size will hit the planet: we’ve slightly overestimated the blast damage of individual impacts, but we’ve underestimated the risk of impact by a factor of ten, meaning that meteors like Chelyabinsk could be coming every fifteen to twenty years.

This doesn’t imply that the next dinosaur-killing giant asteroid is likely to show up soon, but it does suggest that right now, and for the past few decades, we may be and have been experiencing an anomalously high incidence of twenty-yard-long rocks hitting the Earth. This is an unexpected twist, because we’ve largely assumed that the rate of impacts by asteroids is generally constant—an equilibrium with a level of randomness is at least well-understood. Instead, this data indicates that asteroids could strike us in waves, the result of some unwitnessed breakup out in space. In the case of the Chelyabinsk object, analysis of some of the seven-hundred-plus recovered fragments suggests that this breakup could have happened a million years ago, during a period when the parent object, 1999 NC43, previously strayed too close to us. The tidal force of Earth’s gravity would have flexed this body and disrupted it, producing a family of smaller asteroids.

Does this mean that it’s time to take out asteroid insurance? Not quite. More than seventy per cent of the Earth’s surface is ocean, and our densely populated areas still represent a relatively small target area. But it should prompt us to get more serious about investing in ongoing efforts to spot these extraterrestrial objects before they hit us, and to think rationally about how to prevent that. - New Yorker.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Six Dead, Dozens Feared Trapped After Latvia Mall Collapse - Cause Currently Unknown?! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

November 21, 2013 - LATVIA - Six people have been killed and at least 30 others injured after the roof of a large store collapsed in the Latvian capital. Rescuers continue searching for several dozen people who may still be trapped in the rubble.


Maxima shopping mall in Riga, Latvia (RIA Novosti / Oksana Dzhadan)

Some 500 square meters of roof caved in at the ‘Maxima XX’ building in the capital, Riga.

The initial collapse was followed by a second cave-in just as the first responders at the scene were helping the victims. Two rescuers were killed by the second collapse.

“We have lost a colleague who died saving the victims from the rubble,” fire department spokeswoman Inga Vetere told reporters.

According to the latest reports, so far rescuers have managed to save 30 people from the rubble. At least one child has suffered a moderate head injury and has been hospitalized along with dozens of victims, Ria reports.


RIA Novosti / Oksana Dzhadan

RIA Novosti / Oksana Dzhadan

RIA Novosti / Oksana Dzhadan

"At least 70 people may still be trapped in the rubble, according to the latest data," Riga's mayor Nils Ušakovs said as quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.

Upon hearing about the accident the mayor has cut short his holiday.“Interrupted vacation. Looking now for faster options to return to Riga," Ušakovs wrote on his Facebook page.

While the cause is currently unknown, Riga Vice Mayor Andry Ameriks refuted earlier eyewitness reports of an explosion and attributed the incident to a likely construction fault.


WATCH: Scenes from the mall collapse in Latvia.




“Probably, mistakes were made by construction workers, which led to the collapse of the building,” Ameriks  said. “The building collapsed completely. Now, all the rescue services are working at the scene. The most important thing now are the lives of the people.”

Rescue operations are still underway with the military personnel assisting, and workers are continuing to look for victims.

A number of rescue crews are working at the scene including local and state police, some local home guards and at least 17 units of medics as well as 13 fire brigades. Soldiers of the National Armed Force are also helping look for the victims with dog units. Another 40 soldiers were sent from the army garrison, local media reports. - RT.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Radius Expands Around Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano After Increase In Emissions - 57 Low-Intensity Exhalations In 24 Hours!

November 21, 2013 - MEXICO - The Popocatepetl volcano showcased with a layer of snow was observed throughout the morning and mid-day from the city of Puebla and columns generated by medium-intensity exhalations.


Photo: Milenio.


According to the monitoring system of the National Center for Disaster Prevention (Cenapred) in the last 24 hours, the colossus presented 57 exhalations of low intensity, probably accompanied by emissions of steam and gas.

The scientific body apparatuses volcano tectónicos detected six earthquakes of magnitude less than 2.5. “This morning there was medium-intensity exhalations at 05:47, 5:57, 7:28, 7:36 and 8:46 hours. At the time of this report, there was low-cloud visibility.

Nevertheless, this morning the volcano was witnessed with a light emission of water vapor and gases, the agency of the federal Interior Ministry said.

The Volcanic Alert Semaphore Yellow is in Phase 2. The scenarios that could occur in coming hours may include: explosive activity of low to intermediate scale, ash rains mild to moderate in nearby towns, and pyroclastic flows and mudflows short range.

Given the activity of the Colossus, the Cenapred recommended further safety radius of 12 km, so that staying in that area is not permitted, and maintain controlled traffic between Santiago and San Pedro Nexapa Xalitzintla via Paso de Cortes. - El Diario. [Translated]



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Rescuers Call Off Search For Survivors At Collapsed Shopping Mall Site In Tongaat, South Africa - One Killed, Dozens Injured; Cause Remains Unclear?! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

November 21, 2013 - SOUTH AFRICA - Rescue workers called off the search for survivors at a collapsed South African building site today, believing there are no more trapped construction workers beneath the half-built shopping mall.

One person was killed and dozens injured in yesterday's collapse of the three-storey building in Tongaat, 30km north of Durban.


A view of a building that collapsed is seen in the South African town of Tongaat, north of Durban.

"The entire operation has been stopped and handed over to the Department of Labour," police spokeswoman Mandy Govender said.

Initial reports suggested as many as 50 workers might have been trapped under the rubble but rescue officials, working through the night with sniffer dogs, recovered only one body and discovered no survivors.

The cause of the collapse remains unclear. District mayor James Nxumalo said local authorities had obtained a series of court injunctions, the latest on November 14, to halt construction.


Policeman walk past a three-storey building that collapsed in the
South African town of Tongaat, north of Durban.

Paramedics comb through the debris in a bid to find survivors trapped under the
rubble of a collapsed mall in in Tongaat, South Africa

The owner of the site has been identified as a South African businessman who is well-known in Durban, the second-largest city in South Africa and home to a large ethnic Indian population.

If safety regulations are found to have been flouted, the accident could damage the ruling African National Congress (ANC) as it moves toward an election next year because of widespread perceptions of incompetence and corruption in local government.

Durban and the surrounding province of KwaZulu-Natal are also the home of President Jacob Zuma and the region has enjoyed a construction boom in the last few years, based in part on government investment.


WATCH: Police probe deaths in South Africa mall collapse.




Of the 29 injured, two are in a critical condition in hospital, health officials said.

The ANC is expected to win an election in April or May next year but its share of the vote is likely to drop as young post-apartheid South Africans with no knowledge of white-minority rule come of age. - Independent.



MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands Of Fish Found Dead In A Canal In Sao Joao da Barra, Brazil?!

November 21, 2013 - BRAZIL - A scenario unusual surprised the residents of Agua Preta, countryside of São João da Barra, North Fluminense. A large fish kills in Quitingute channel, has been causing problems since last Friday (15) when the species began to die.




The State Environmental Institute (INEA) sent technicians to the site to make water analysis and point out the possible causes. Researchers at the State University of North Fluminense (UENF) have already made the first collection and the suspicion is that the lack of oxygen in the water is responsible.

According to the environmentalist Aristides Soffiati the Quitingute receives water from the canal Saint Benedict, which in turn is connected to the Paraíba do Sul "The decomposition of these fish further aggravates the situation and helps to reduce the level of oxygen in the water" commented.





Alessandro Carvalho, local resident, said that the channel is responsible for supplying the fishing community." Even in closed season, this death already affect fishermen, because the dead fish are in the development stage," he said.

The geographer UENF, Pedlowski Marcos, ruled out the possibility of salinity and advocates a more precise analysis to determine the cause." We are expanding the collection, but there are several possibilities, such as disposing of pesticides, disposal of organic matter and chemical fertilizers. One result has yet to be released on Monday, " he said.


WATCH: Mass fish die-off in Brazil.


The superintendent of the INEA in Campos, Rene JusteM, said that soon the agency may report the number of dead fish, but that the work focused on the problem have begun to be realized. - Globo. [Translated]



MONUMENTAL DISASTER IMPACT: "Unlikely We'll Ever Know" Philippines Death Toll, May Remain A Mystery As Tacloban Residents Make Exodus From Hell, Fleeing Area Devastated By Typhoon Haiyan - Bodies Lost Forever In The Sea; Gruesome Work Counting Bodies; 13 Million Affected; 4 Million Displaced; 1 Million Homes Damaged; Roads And Airports Destroyed; Power Intermittent; Food And Fuel Scarce; And Mobile Coverage Spotty!

November 21, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - Counting the dead in the Philippines is grim, slow, and frustratingly inexact work. Since the monster Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the scattered Pacific islands a week and a half ago, the toll has fluctuated wildly — a few hundred at first, then a nightmarish estimate of 10,000, then a smaller figure given by the president that quickly proved too optimistic.

"Unlikely We'll Ever Know" Philippines Death Toll, May Remain A Mystery
People cover their noses from the stench as they ride past a mass grave with more than 700 bodies
of victims of Typhoon Haiyan just outside Tacloban, the Philippines, on Monday.
Damir Sagolj / Reuters

On Tuesday, the Philippine government put the count at just under 3,982, but no one seemed to believe it would stay there. The United Nations warned that crews have still not reached some remote islands.

“It is unlikely we’ll ever know the exact total,” even after a final and official figure is reached, Steven Rood, the Philippines country representative for the nonprofit Asia Foundation, said by email from Manila.

Casualty reporting after any natural disaster is tricky, subject to logistical challenges that grow with the severity of the disaster itself — downed power lines, telephone outages.

In the Philippines, the problem was compounded by a highly decentralized government and a communications network that relies heavily on mobile technology, Rood said. Radio backup, thought to be unnecessary, was abandoned by civilian offices years ago.

Adding to the chaos was the myth — not unique to the Philippines — that cadavers pose such a health risk that they must be buried before before they can be identified, he said. In fact, health officials say, human remains pose a relatively minor risk of infection and contamination after a disaster.


WATCH: The Philippines - After the storm.




On the islands, the result was statistical confusion that made it harder for the world to get a grip on just how hard the islands had been hit.

On the day after the storm, a regional police director said that the death toll could climb to 10,000. An administrator in the devastated city of Tacloban said that the count could reach 10,000 there alone.

Then last week, President Benigno Aquino predicted that the toll would come out to 2,000 to 2,500. He said that the more dire estimates might have been influenced by “emotional drama.”

The police official who had cited the figure of 10,000 was relieved of his duties, according to the Philippines News Agency.

By last Thursday, it became clear that the president’s figure was too low. The United Nations, which said it was relying on figures from the government of the Philippines, put the count at 4,460. A day later, the U.N. pulled back to 3,600.

John Ging, director of the operational division at the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, apologized for the discrepancy and said that the inaccurate figure was based on estimates, not confirmed deaths.

The mayor of Tacloban also apologized Friday after a figure, marked up on a simple whiteboard, estimated the dead in that city at 4,000. The mayor said the figure was for the whole central Philippines.

Rood, from the Asia Foundation, summarized the confusion as “the faulty flow of data from damaged local governments through weak or nonsexistent channels.”


WATCH: Search for missing continues in the Philippines.


  

President Aquino, he said, had insisted on reliable, systematic data, not anecdotes to plan the response — but should have hedged his figures by pointing out that only some local governments had reported their dead.

The count by the Philippine government includes cadavers that have been identified or that police or government investigators have tried to identify, Teodoro J. Herbosa, the undersecretary of health, told NBC News.

“The government is very careful in terms of declaring the true numbers,” he said.

The counting is especially slow “in a place like what happened here, wherein all the police forces were gone and this was not the local police, this was police from outside that actually are counting,” he said.

Simply reaching the dead, to say nothing of counting and reporting their numbers, has proved an enormous challenge since the typhoon struck.

Roads and airports have been all but destroyed. Power is still intermittent in the hardest-hit areas. Food and fuel are scarce. Telephone lines are down, and mobile phone coverage is spotty.

In some parts of the country, where bloated bodies lie beside swamps and streets, counting the dead has simply not been a priority because survival itself is a more urgent task.

Alfred Romualdez, the Tacloban mayor, said that some people may have been swept to sea, their bodies lost forever to the storm. One whole neighborhood, population 10,000 to 12,000, was simply deserted, he said.

Where there are bodies left to count, the work is gruesome.

In the shattered city of Tacloban, three morticians struggled in the evening sun Monday to identify dozens of decomposing bodies at a mass grave. They worked at a pace of 15 bodies per hour.

“There’s just a few of us right now. The thing is, we just want to start a system,” one of the pathologists, Raquel Del Rosario-Fortun, told Reuters. “The idea is to try and examine all the bodies here, and not just dump them in a common grave.”


WATCH: Philippines tries to cope after super typhoon.




Besides the dead, almost 13 million people have been affected in some way by the storm, according to the U.N. That includes 4 million people who have been displaced. More than 1 million houses have been damaged. A U.N. spokeswoman on Monday compared the scale of the response to trying to help “the whole of Belgium.”

Rood said that the Philippine government was overwhelmed in the early days after the typhoon, “as most governments would have been.” Now, he said, the government has a grip on the situation.

That does not make the counting any easier. President Aquino on Monday visited the town of Palo, near Tacloban, where generators light the streets. He said that he was trying to keep spirits high to help the relief effort.

But the storm’s toll was so devastating, he said, that “one is tempted to despair.” - NBC News.




Tacloban Residents Make Exodus From Hell, Fleeing Area Devastated By Typhoon Haiyan
The typhoon-ravaged airport in Tacloban, Philippines, was littered with giant pallets of food, trucks,
planes, helicopters and thousands of people trying to leave.  Source: Dan Gallo/Fox News


It was a ride to never forget. Escaping hell on earth in the belly of giant US transport, stuffed in like sardines in what felt like a record - 683 passengers sitting cross legged on the floor of a C-17 cargo aircraft.

It was a Monday morning in the infamous, urine soaked Tacloban Airport in the Philippines, a dumping ground of desperate humanity attempting to flee one of the worst disasters ever – a combination typhoon-tsunami that wiped out homes in 36 provinces and inundated some 125 miles of coastline.

A U.S. Marine led us onto the chaotic tarmac, littered with giant pallets of food, trucks, planes, helicopters and of course people – thousands still trying to leave. Stray dogs moved among the masses, looking for scraps of food and high energy biscuits from the mountains of boxes of aid stacked throughout the airport. Planes landed every few minutes from around the world – Sweden, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia – loaded with supplies. Most were the C-130 – an American-built cargo plane. Once offloaded, the U.S. and Philippine C-130s were loaded with evacuees – and sent either to Manilla or Cebu, the country’s second largest city.


WATCH: Philippine neighbors steer storm relief.




Each C-130 was crammed with about 120 people. After more than 400 flights, the US had evacuated roughly 4,000 from Tacloban.

But the C-130 isn’t large enough to transport the heavy equipment, like cargo trucks, backhoes and bulldozers needed now. For that the US Air Force brought in three Boeing C-17s, one the largest military transports in the world. It’s among the most successful planes ever built, doing the heavy lifting for the Air Force since 1993.


A Marine stands by as Filipinos exit the C-17 at Villamor Airbase in Manila.  Source: Dan Gallo/Fox News

The plane is so big, it can’t fit on the tarmac – so the Marines escorted this odd assortment of passengers – international aid workers, journalists and a mass of hungry and homeless Filipinos onto the runway. We entered the jumbo jet on a long ramp into the cavernous bay. Jump seats on the side of the plane were reserved for women, children and the injured.

The engines never shut down, so senior airman Samantha Holley yelled. She instructed everyone to sit down and put a cargo strap over our legs. “Move forward, move forward, move forward,” she screamed.

Everyone stunk. Since the typhoon, there’d been no running water. With high humidity, and 90 degree days, and no change of clothes, the cargo bay smelled like a heap of trash.

As the plane filed up, the hard steel floor began to hurt. You can only sit cross-legged so long before your legs begin to cramp. But by now, sitting shoulder to shoulder with some stranger, your knees in their back, there was no where to go.


Flight crew members help an injured man off the C-17 at the Villamor Airbase in Manila. 
Source: Dan Gallo/Fox News

After every inch of the cargo hold was jammed with passengers, the plane took off. It was too loud inside to talk, so everyone either looked down or closed their eyes. After a week here, we’d gotten at most two hours of sleep a night, usually on the concrete tarmac in the same clothes we arrived. Between the rain and the roar of arriving planes every few minutes, I am sure others didn’t have it any better. Exhausted, everyone was just happy to get out, especially the locals. They’d just been beaten and broken by a fierce storm, left with nothing but their life. Many didn’t know where they were going, but knew it was better than the smell of death and bloated corpses they left behind.

Half way through the trip, Holley connected her phone to the plane’s speaker system and suddenly music boomed into a cabin usually reserved for tanks and giant generators.

"I'm coming home. I'm coming home, tell the world I'm coming home."

The song sung by Skylar Grey energized the emotionally drained group. Some cried, some laughed, but for the first time since arriving I saw typhoon ravaged Filipino’s smile.


Nearly 700 people packed into the C17, including some media and relief workers. 
Source: Dan Gallo/Fox News

“Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday I know my kingdom awaits and they've forgiven my mistakes I'm coming home, I'm coming home. Tell the world I'm coming home.”

Airman Holley began to wave her arms to the music, and the many in crowded plane followed suit. A stadium wave inside a C-17. It had to be a first!

The plane normally carried 102 paratroopers, or 120 soldiers. It once carried Keiko the killer whale to Iceland. But this was a record for the C-17. The world record for a single flight passenger load is 1,122, held by a stripped down 747.

After an hour, we landed effortlessly in Manila. The plane erupted in cheers. As people began to exit, a man injured in the flood, couldn’t get down the stairs. Two Air Force pilots from the 535th Airlift Squadron caught him as he fell, and carried him to an awaiting bus.

After leaving here, the C-17 out of Hawaii would go to Japan, load more heavy equipment and return to Tacloban, where the exodus from hell would continue. - FOX News.