Thursday, May 7, 2015

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Military Plane Crashes In Spain - 4 People Dead!

May 7, 2015 - SPAIN
- Four people are dead, and two seriously injured, after an Airbus A400M military transport aircraft crashed into a pylon near Seville, in southern Spain.

“We express our deepest sympathy,” said a statement Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who canceled a public election rally, following the accident. “They were our fellow countrymen."

The €150 million A400M, assembled in a plant in nearby Seville, was on a test flight, prior to being shipped to Turkey, when the crew contacted air traffic controllers about a technical failure after takeoff. The model had been beset by multiple technical hitches and cost overruns, before finally entering service in 2013.

The aircraft crashed only 1.6km north of international San Pablo Airport, emergency services said.

Though the crash occurred outside the perimeter of the airport, the facility is not operational, El Pais reported. Some flights were diverted to the cities of Malaga and Jerez.

Numerous images on social media showed firefighters spraying the smoldering wreckage of the plane in a field.

The Airbus A400M Atlas is a tactical airlifter that can perform various missions, including electronic surveillance and aerial refueling.

The A400M's maiden flight took place in December 2009 from Seville, Spain. Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the UK and Turkey are the aircraft’s primary operators.

The UK Ministry of Defence said it was pausing its own A400M flights, pending the first results of the investigation. - RT.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Increasing Global Volcanism As The Celestial Black Event Nears - Volcanic Activity At The Hakone Volcano Shuts Part Of Popular Japan Hot Springs; Alert Level Raised; The Last Eruption Took Place Around 3,000 YEARS AGO!

White smoke is spewed out in Owakudani valley of Mount. Hakone where increased earthquake activity is found, in Hakone town, about
80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Tokyo, Thursday, May 7, 2015.  © Kyodo News

May 7, 2015 - JAPAN
- Japanese authorities have closed part of a popular hot springs area to the public because of fears a volcano might erupt.

Increased earthquake activity at Mount Hakone prompted the Japanese Meteorological Agency to raise the alert level earlier this week to 2 on a scale of 1 to 5,
1 being the lowest.

The town of Hakone met on Thursday with tourism industry representatives who are concerned about the possible impact on business.

About 50 people who operate businesses in the restricted area were allowed to make a temporary visit to maintain their facilities and collect necessities, according to Japanese broadcaster TBS. It quoted a cafe owner saying he hopes the situation will be over soon.

The closed area includes Owakudani, a well-visited site where tourists can see steam emerging from vents in a crater from a past eruption. Both a section of a ropeway that passes nearby and trails to Owakudani have been closed.

Hakone, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Tokyo, attracts visitors from both Japan and overseas. Most of Hakone's other sights remain open.

The eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan last September killed 57 people. - Yahoo.

EXTREME WEATHER: "Cars Were Flipped Into The Air" - 29 Sightings Of Tornadoes Reported Throughout Central United States!

May 7, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- Multiple tornadoes injured at least 13 as they tore through the central United States on Wednesday destroying homes and felling trees amid heavy rains that triggered local flooding, US media reported.

At least 13 people were injured when a tornado tore through a mobile home park in Oklahoma City, CNN reported, quoting Susie Patterson of the Emergency Medical Services Authority in Oklahoma City.

The Weather Channel said at least 29 tornado sightings had been reported across the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma, where multiple homes were destroyed.

Footage from a local affiliate broadcast on CNN showed significant destruction in the state, including a building ravaged by the storm system, with belongings scattered across a lawn.

Cars were flipped into the air on an interstate highway, The Oklahoman Newspaper reported.

A zoo called Tiger Safari in the town of Tuttle was also hit, and initially the county sheriff's office said some animals were on the loose, but they were later accounted for, the paper said.

A tornado passes near Halstead, Kan., on May 6, 2015. © Travis Heying, The Wichita Eagle, AP)

"Severe weather will remain a daily threat for the Plains and Midwest through (the) weekend thanks to a stubbornly slow-moving weather pattern across North America," The National Weather Service said.

"Tornado watches have been issued for parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In those watch areas, several tornadoes have been reported," it added.

Flooding was reported in Moore, Oklahoma and several houses sustained tornado damage in Bridge Creek, KOCO television reported.

The city of Norman also took a hit with the I-35 highway shut down due to downed power lines, the report said.

An image from the local newspaper, The Norman Transcript, showed part of the exterior of the city's Norman Hotel ripped off by a tornado. - Discovery News.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Waterspout Filmed On Little Pea Pouridge Pond In Madison, New Hampshire!

Waterspout. © Lauren MacDonald

- A waterspout was spotted on a Little Pea Pouridge Pond in Madison around noon Wednesday.

The waterspout was captured on video by viewer Lauren MacDonald.

WATCH: Waterspout on Little Pea Pouridge Pond in Madison.

MacDonald called it unusual and said she had never seen anything like it. - WCVB.

DELUGE: Flash Flood Emergency Issued For Oklahoma City - Following 7 Inches Of Rain In 24 Hours!

Flash flooding trapped motorists in Oklahoma City, Okla. © CBS News

- The US National Weather Service yesterday evening issued an unprecedented "flash flood emergency" for Oklahoma City after storms dumped record amounts of rain on Wednesday 06 May 2015.

A statement made by Oklahoma City government said that National Weather Service officials called Wednesday night's flood threat "deadly and dangerous," issuing a Flash Flood Emergency for the first time in central Oklahoma's history. The flood threat was expected to be ongoing from Wednesday night and into Thursday as rain continues and the watershed drains.

The storms and torrential rain were accompanied by several tornadoes in the region over the last 24 hours. Around 12 people have been reported as injured in the severe weather. Numerous roads have been closed, either as a result of floods or wind and storm damage.

WATCH: Deluge in Oklahoma.

In a statement last night, the government of Oklahoma City said:
"The primary threat Wednesday night is rising flood waters as rain continues. Reports of flooded roadways began coming in during the early evening, particularly in south Oklahoma City.

"As of 9:45 p.m., there were no confirmed reports of serious injuries in Oklahoma City, but emergency crews continued to canvass the City and respond to emergency calls."

Oklahoma Red Cross set up a shelters in affected areas for those who evacuated their homes. Oklahoma City Animal Welfare department was working on setting up emergency accommodation for any pets.

Flood safety

Oklahoma City authorities stressed the dangers presented by flooding, in particular for drivers.
"Do not drive, bicycle or walk into flooded areas. Do not drive around barricades, which are erected around flooded roads for your safety and the safety of first responders".
In a statement they said asked anyone stranded by flood waters to call 911.

Airport evacuations

At around 8.00pm on Wednesday 06 May 2015, Oklahoma's Will Rogers World Airport cancelled all flights. Several hundred people had to take shelter in the airport's pedestrian tunnel during evacuations. In a statement made last night, airport officials said:
"Severe weather and nearby tornadoes caused two terminal evacuations at Will Rogers World Airport tonight. The first evacuation occurred at approximately 5:10pm.and lasted for 40 minutes. The second evacuation occurred at 6:55pm and lasted for nearly three hours.
The airport also said that flash flooding on Terminal Drive and Air Cargo Road had left several motorists stranded, and that floods had prevented people from leaving the terminal for several hours. The floodwater at the airport has since subsided. No injuries were reported

Record rainfall

NWS Norman said that 6.90 inches (175.2 mm) of rain for the calendar day fell at OKC Will Rogers World Airport, easily beating the previous 06 May record of 2.16 inches (54.8 mm) set in 1930.

The daily total of 6.90 inches is the fourth highest amount of rain to fall in 24 hours. NWS Norman say that the highest amount to fall in 24 hours in Oklahoma City is 7.62 inches, 14 June 2010.

The storms and floods in Oklahoma follow the flash floods that hit parts of Kansas and Texas where record amounts of rain fell between 04 and 05 May 2015.
As of 10pm - OKC Will Rogers World Airport - 6.90 inches of rain for the calendar day. Old May 6th record was 2.16 set in 1930.

— NWS Norman (@NWSNorman) May 7, 2015
Top 5 #OKC 24hr rain totals: 1) 7.62" 6/14/2010, 2) 7.53" 9/22/1970, 3) 7.08" 10/1/1927, 4) 6.90" Today, 5) 6.75" 6/3/1932 #okwx

— NWS Norman (@NWSNorman) May 7, 2015
- Floodlist.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: Disaster Precursors And Warnings From Mother Nature – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Migratory Patterns, Attacks, Deaths, And Appearance Of Rare Creatures!

May 7, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

More than 30 sei whales wash up dead along the Gulf of Penas coast, Chile

The sei whale is an endangered species and the mammals are no longer supposed to be hunted commercially

A group of foreign scientists discovered at least 20 dead sei whales beached along Chile's southern coast on the Gulf of Penas and reported them to the National Fisheries Service.

A statement from Chilean officials on Friday said there were around 20 whales, while the scientists said they counted more than 30.

The International Union for Conservation of Natures lists the sei as an endangered species and the whales are no longer supposed to be hunted commercially.

The sei whale is an endangered species and the mammals are no longer supposed to be hunted commercially.

The sei became endangered when it was heavily hunted after the stocks of blue and fin whales became depleted and it now has a population of about 12,000, according to the WWF.

It's not unusual to find beached whales along Chile's 2,400-mile coast, however it's the first time sei whales have been found beached in the country, the Fisheries Service said.

There is a military base several miles from the fjord where the whales were found.

A group of scientists discovered at least 20 dead sei whales on Chile's southern coast on the Gulf of Penas

Officials are trying to determine how the whales died and what caused the mammals to wind up on the beach

The sei became endangered when it was hunted after the stocks of blue and fin whales became depleted

Adults can be longer than 50 feet and weigh 20 tons or more.

The whales, which were rotting when they were discovered, measured about 33 feet in length.

Officials are trying to determine how the whales died and what caused the mammals to wind up on the beach
German biologist Vreni Haussermann, who was leading the group that found the whales, said:

'They were everywhere, none were injured, so we thought they suffered from a red tide [algal bloom] or a virus.

'I think they were swept away by the currents.

'In my 15 years in the area I never saw something like that.'

Officials said they were trying to determine how the whales died and what caused them to wind up on the shore.

Bad weather is hindering the investigation. - Daily Mail.

Female pilot whale beached at Kennedy Space Center

Rescuers from Kennedy Space Center and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute examine a pilot whale that beached itself Thursday at KSC.(Photo: Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute)

Biologists will test whether a measles-like virus that killed more than 1,600 dolphins since July 2013 also did in an 11-foot-long pilot whale that beached itself Thursday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

"It's a big female," said Megan Stolen, a research scientist with the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. "It was emaciated."

Stolen and fellow biologists are examining the pilot whale's remains today (May 8) at Hubb's lab near Melbourne Beach, extracting lung, lymph node and spinal cord tissues to test for the so-called morbillivirus.

The virus has been killing bottlenose dolphins along the Atlantic Coast for more than two years in the worst outbreak of the virus in almost three decades.

The virus claimed 740 dolphins from New Jersey to Florida in 1987.

At about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Hubbs biologists received a report from Canaveral National Seashore staff that the whale had stranded alive on the beach within the national park.

The whale washed out for a while but had washed back into the beach at KSC by about 1 p.m. Thursday, Stolen said.

Staff form Canaveral National Seashore, NASA security and fire-rescue help haul in a beached pilot whale Thursday at Kennedy Space Center. Hubbs-SeaWorld Research
Institute had to euthanize the whale because of an ongoing viral outbreak killing dolphins from New Jersey to Florida. (Photo: Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute)

Hubbs staff euthanized the whale. Deep-sea whales rarely survive beaching. But NOAA Fisheries also mandates all whales and dolphins that beach during a morbillivirus outbreak must be euthanized to prevent spread of the virus.

The dolphins infected with the virus wash up with lesions on their skin, mouth, joints, or lungs.

Since July 2013, the virus has killed more than 1,660 bottlenose dolphins, from New Jersey to Brevard, more than 300 of them in the Florida, according to NOAA Fisheries.

Stolen said about 30 dead bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon region have tested positive for the virus. But as many as 100 in the region may have died from the virus, the Hubbs researchers suspect.

"We haven't had any positive cases in other species," Stolen said, adding that none have tested positive in the lagoon since Feb. 10.

"So we feel like things are getting better," Stolen said.

If tests continue to show no morbillivirus infections, NOAA Fisheries may soon consider declaring a formal end to the unusual die-off, Stolen said. That would also end the mandatory euthanizing of the stranded dolphins and whales.  - Florida Today.

Monkey kills 4-year-old disabled boy in Ghaziabad, India

Monkey [Representative image]  © Reuters

A four-year-old disabled boy was reportedly killed by a monkey in Ghaziabad on Thursday, 7 May.

The deceased, Mohan, was playing with his brothers, Golu, 6, Srikant, 6, and Sohan, 4, at their home when the mishap happened in the afternoon.

However, when the incident occurred none of the elders were at home and he breathed his last on the way to hospital.

"The monkey appeared out of nowhere and attacked me and chased my brothers. We all ran outside to save ourselves but Mohan could not. The animal managed to push open the door of the room where Mohan was present. He then grabbed his neck and choked him. I ran out and called my grandmother for help. But to no avail," Golu said, according to the Hindustan Times.

According to the neighbours, the monkey even tried to enter the house thrice after the attack.
Monkey strangulates 4-year-old differently-abled boy to death in Ghaziabad

— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) May 8, 2015
Similarly, last year, a six-week-old baby was also killed by a monkey, who escaped from a zoo in Crimea. The animal had torn the child into pieces and was thrown out of the pram.
- International Business Times.

120 pound family dog attacks five-year-old boy

Wood River officer's son was attacked by their family dog.  © KSDK

A Wood River Police Officer's five-year-old son was attacked by the family dog Wednesday afternoon.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the back yard of the officer's Wood River home. The dog was a 120 pound English Mastiff. The five-year-old was unconscious when emergency responders arrived at the house.

Officers say they were forced to put down the dog due to it's violent behavior. The boy regained consciousness before he was flown to a St. Louis Hospital. He was bitten multiple times and suffered lacerations to the lower portion of his body. Police did not release details on his condition tonight.  - KSDK.

One person killed as tusker goes on rampage in Ranchi, India

Asian elephant.

An elephant went on rampage in the State capital creating havoc among the people for several hours before daybreak on Wednesday. One person named Baldev Mahli, 55, got killed after it rammed over him after he came out of his house at Naya Basti under Argora Police Station in Ranchi. It also injured at least two other persons of the same locality as they stepped out of their houses.

A forest official said that the tusker took the root from the jungles of Khunti to Lalkhatanga to Bio-diversity Park and entered the city along with the boundary of Birsa Munda Airport, then to Birsa Chowk from where it took the Hatia Ranchi Railway line for venturing towards Argora and Kadru heading towards Ranchi Station.

They, however, claimed that the elephant has been chased away to the jungles of Lalkhatanga adjacent to Ranchi. - Ranchie Express.

Leopard attacks rise in Nashik region India: 12 people killed in five years

Leopard. © Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons

The rising leopard population in the region has resulted in frequent human-animal conflicts over the past five years. Leopards straying into farms have claimed 12 human lives and caused 6,603 animal deaths since 2010.

Foresters said there have been 10 incidents of leopard straying and/or attacking human beings or animals in the span of past six months. More recently, two attacks were reported in a month in Sinnar area.

The recent attacks in Sinnar resulted in the death of a four-year-old and left a farmer with minor injuries.
The forest department laid two cages to trap the leopard but is yet to catch the wild cat.

Forest officials said there has been a significant rise in the leopard population in the region. The recent incidents of leopards straying into human habitats have given rise to the question whether humans have encroached upon their habitats.

"In general, the leopard population has increased. The environment is conducive for them. There have always been instances of leopards being spotted in farms or whisking away domestic animals," said a forest official.

A government resolution was circulated in 2006-07 to provide compensation to animal attack victims. The government directive was amended depending upon the area of attack.

Compensation is given to the injured, the kin of the deceased and to the owner of the domestic animal and farm in case there is death of the animal and destruction of crops. The GR states that even if funds are not available and there is a negative balance sheet, the victim will get immediate aid.

"We have given Rs 8 lakh to the kin of the four-year-old who died in a leopard attack last month. Compensation for the recently injured man will be given according to the doctor's certificate," said a forest official. The forest department has paid a total ex-gratia of Rs 1.22 crore to the kin of the 12 deceased in the past five years. They have also released compensation of Rs 9.21 lakh to the owners of the killed animals. - The Times of India.

Globe-trotting bird ends up in Sutton, New Hampshire

Northern wheatear.  © Wikimedia Commons/Merops

Northern wheatear is an extremely rare sight south of Canada

A rare Arctic visitor came to Lane River Bridge in South Sutton on May 3.

A female northern wheatear was seen and photographed there and leads to Rare Bird Alert for New Hampshire for this week.

These are marathon migrators who don't usually make it into the lower 48 states.

Its conservation status is probably stable and may be increasing as a breeder in northeastern Canada, according to Audubon.

In summer, it can be found in rocky tundra, and barren slopes. It breeds on dry northern tundra with many exposed rocks and boulders, especially where these are near mats of dwarf shrubs a few inches high.

On fall weekends in the northeast, birders sometimes hope (but never expect) to find a Wheatear.

This small chat enters the North American arctic from both directions, via both Greenland and Alaska, but almost all go back to the Old World in winter; only the occasional straggler appears south of Canada.

Its harsh "chak-chak!" song is a jumble of warbling notes. - WMUR.

Tigers and wild animals escape from Tuttle, Oklahoma zoo after tornado hits

A series of tornadoes, including a major twister, touched down southwest of Oklahoma City on Wednesday, flipping cars and causing the escape of tigers and other animals from an exotic wildlife park, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries but some structures were damaged as a storm system brought severe weather to several Great Plains states, officials said.

Tigers and other animals were able to briefly escape from the Tiger Safari park after a tornado struck the city of Tuttle, about 30 miles (48km) south-west of Oklahoma City, though they were recaptured without further incident, the Grady County Sheriff's Office said.

Residents of Tuttle had been warned to stay indoors by authorities after the escape.

Meanwhile passengers, visitors and employees at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City were evacuated to a pedestrian tunnel for about 30 minutes as the storms moved through the area, the airport said on its Twitter feed.

The tornadoes flipped cars, downed power lines and snapped trees. Several roads were closed because of debris, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said.

WATCH: Tigers and wild animals escape from Oklahoma zoo.

Continual storms and heavy rain have hampered emergency responders from being able to fully assess the damage, and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for downtown Oklahoma City.

Severe flooding was reported in the downtown Oklahoma City business district and South Oklahoma City, where local media reported a possible drowning victim after a flash flood.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for an area stretching from central Texas to central Nebraska, where millions of people live.

There had been about two dozen tornadoes reported in the area, it said.

In Oklahoma, a large tornado hit near Bridge Creek, southwest of Oklahoma City, the National Weather Service said, adding it was too early to tell how strong it was. Local broadcaster KFOR said it was about a mile wide.

The local sheriff's office was out in the field surveying damage and was not immediately available for comment.

The Oklahoma City suburb of Moore was placed under a tornado emergency. Moore was devastated by a tornado about two years ago that killed 24 and injured more than 300.

Earlier in the day the National Weather Service forecast the chance of tornadoes in parts of the great plains.

A weak tornado touched down in south-western Oklahoma shortly after 3pm, according to weather services meteorologist Michael Scotten.

"We've had at least one confirmed tornado, for sure," he said, adding no one was hurt or injured. "It's mainly hit open areas out there."

The tornado touched down between Cement and Anadarko. The Chickasha school district, which was in the path of the tornado, kept its students after school as a precaution.

Richard Thompson at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, noted that storms will likely be widely spaced apart.

"It's possible the hail at the very biggest could be tennis ball- or baseball-sized, but that would be very isolated," Thompson said.

"This is the first of potentially several days of a severe weather risk. There could be some pretty heavy rain overnight and eventually flooding could be a concern." - The Guardian.

Bizarre bird migration: Little Bustard makes rare visit to Finnish Lapland

A little bustard. © Mikko Lantto

Mikko Lantto is a photographer who lives in the village of Ylikylä, some 10 kilometres from the centre of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. While not a serious birdwatcher, he managed to pull off a major coup on Wednesday by spotting a little bustard, which usually lives in Asia and southern Europe. There have only been 23 sightings of the species ever in Finland - and none in northern Finland for at least 220 years.

Two larger types of bustards are rated as the world's heaviest flying birds.

"This is a long-necked, heavy-set, short-winged bird with relatively long legs, whose wings appear almost completely white when in flight. This particular bird has been identified as a male because it has a black neck," Anssi Mäkinen of the Lapland ornithological association's rarities committee told Yle on Thursday.

Twitchers flock to area

Another association member, Pirkka Aalto, says that other birds have been seen in the fields behind Mikko Lantto's house in the past two days.

"Warm south-easterly air currents are bringing rarities to Finland, so our birdwatchers' notification messages are beeping all the time. Today people who were here looking for the bustard saw a pallid harrier, a bird of prey that comes from the same direction," says Aalto.

Questionable sighting in 1795

The only reported sighting of a little bustard in Finnish Lapland was in the far-north municipality of Inari in 1795. However there are doubts about that account, which dates from a time when Inari was a virtually uninhabited wilderness.

Distribution map of Little Bustard

"Yesterday I went out to take pictures of the ice breaking up on the river when I saw something that looked like a curlew on the edge of a field and I thought I'd shoot a short video of it. I realised pretty quickly that it wasn't a curlew. I tried to find it in a bird book, but had no luck, nor online," he recalls.

Lantto called a birdwatcher friend, who passed a picture on to Ilkka Rautio, president of the Lapland ornithological association. He sent the picture on further and soon received word that it was a little bustard. Despite an influx of ornithologists into the area, no further sightings of the singular visitor have been made. - YLE.

Baby boy killed in his home by monkey after the animal escaped from a nearby private zoo in Crimea

The blue macaque that attacked.
A police hunt has been launched for the owner of a private zoo whose monkey killed a six-week-old baby after breaking free.

The boy Vladimir (Vova) Verbitsky was attacked as he lay in a pram at his home in Crimea and the unnamed man who kept a menagerie of exotic animals is now believed to have fled to Ukraine.

The blue macaque was tethered in the yard of the wealthy zoo owner's house in Kacha, a suburb of Sevastopol.

Police say the monkey gnawed through the rope and jumped a fence at the Verbitsky family home, leaping into Vova's pram and biting his face.

'The baby's head was almost torn to pieces and the child was thrown out of his pram," said one source.

The distraught parents found Vova two metres from the pram.

The owner of the private zoo rushed the badly bleeding baby in the arms of his mother Agnessa, 26, to hospital but he died on the way.

Svetlana Verbitskaya, the child's grandmother, told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper: 'Agnessa went into the house to the kitchen for a minute, to stir her soup, and it was then when the monkey jumped into the pram.

'The angry macaque rent the baby's head and then threw him some two metres away. We failed to save the baby - it all happened within a few seconds.'

The mother, who has another child Evelina, 18 months, was only absent momentarily, she said.

'Agnessa would never leave Vova unattended,' she said. 'We had asked our neighbours so many times to take better care of their zoo.

'One day his Cameroon goats came into the garden. One another occasion his Vietnam pigs ran in, and last year the vet service came here to take away a bear that was dying of hunger. I heard he was taken to the zoo in Yalta. They they got the new bear instead.

'This is a rich family. they own a hotel and a shop, and they keep these animals just for fun. Do you think the owner asked us to forgive him? Not at all. He ran away to Sevastopol where he has a flat there.

'And his house is locked now - the animals are alone crying in their cages.'

'Our Vova was buried in the closed coffin. But at the last moment his mother Agnessa asked to open it so she could say good bye to her little son,' said Svetlana.

The man is known to hold a Ukrainian passport and it is feared he has fled there to escape Russian police in Crimea.

He sent an aide to offer financial assistance to the Verbitskys - but they refused.

The monkey was caught and is likely to be destroyed by lethal injection after the expected court action.

Police say it highlights the danger of private menageries.

The local branch of Russia's powerful Investigative Committee has started a criminal investigation against the man for 'accidentally causing the death of an underage child', for which the maximum penalty is two years in jail.

The baby was killed on July 9 and buried three days later, but almost two weeks later police have failed to track down the man. - Daily Mail.

Angry gulls kill puppy in Honiton, UK

Bella, the chihuahua puppy killed by seagulls. © SWNS

A woman whose chihuahua puppy was killed by a flock of aggressive seagulls has warned other dog owners to be vigilant for bird attacks.

Nikki Wayne said her pet Bella had been made a virtual prisoner in her home after being harassed by "brazen" gulls which gathered on her roof.

The gulls were so menacing that Ms Wayne made sure her dog never went outside without her protection.

But the birds struck when Ms Wayne left a door slightly ajar while she was in the shower and Bella managed to nudge her way out.

She was killed before she could get back into the house.

Ms Wayne, a mother of five who moved to Honiton, Devon, from Canada a year ago, described Bella as a 'really playful puppy' who would always want to roam around the garden.

She said she earlier asked advice from her vet about the danger from the birds, after seeing how they perched on her roof and peered into the garden at Bella.

She said: "I called my vets and they said I should make sure I go out with her every moment she went outside in my back yard."

Even when she accompanied Bella into the garden, she was surprised by how aggressive the birds could be.

"I got really worried about it," she said. "They started to swoop down to my face level, brushing me."

One day when Nikki was taking a shower the outer door was left ajar, and Bella managed to push her way outside to play.

The 57-year-old said she would never forget the incident and has issued warnings to other dog owners in the area.

In 2002, an 80-year-old former ambulance driver died of a heart attack after he was attacked by gulls at his home.

Wilfred Roby disturbed a nest of chicks as he tried to clean bird droppings from the roof of his garage in Anglesey, North Wales.

The parent birds, joined by other gulls, swooped on Mr Roby knocking him off the wall where he was standing. They continued to peck at him as he lay unconscious.

He suffered a suspected heart attack and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tony Whitehead, West Country spokesman for the RSPB, said the latest case was only the second he could recall where a dog had been killed by gulls.

He said: "It's obviously no consolation to the owners, but this is a rare occurrence. This isn't by any means typical behaviour of gulls."

The birds may have been defending their territory, he said. "Around this time of year they tend to get very territorial as they are nesting."

Another possibility is that they were hunting. He said: "Gulls are great scavengers. They will eat anything."

While gulls are notorious in seaside towns for swooping down on tourists and stealing chips, ice creams and snacks, he said such behaviour was nothing to do with aggression.  - The Telegraph.

Animal mauled girl in London, Ontario: Was it a coyote?


Police say a teenage girl was attacked from behind Friday morning in a London park by a coyote who knocked her to the ground and bit or tore at her face and arm.

While the girl survived the assault after an older male friend pulled the animal off her, news of the attack stunned a wildlife expert, who said he's seen nothing like it in seven or eight years reporting on coyotes in the London region.

"This is a rare occurrence,
" said Brandon Williamson of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.

Police say the teenage girl, who is less than 16 years old, had been walking with an older teenage male at 8:30 a.m. along the north bank of the south branch of the Thames River between Adelaide and Egerton streets.

Known as South Branch Park, it has a concrete path that's popular with bicyclists, joggers and people going for strolls — Yasushi Iwasaki was biking with his kids, ages 6 and 11, less than 12 hours after the attack.

"It's scary," he said when told what had happened.

The same park is expected to draw hundreds of people Saturday to plant trees near the bank, an event organized by ReForest London.

The teenager was treated at hospital and released. Police didn't disclose details of her condition.

Police are warning people not to go through the park alone.

"This area is populated by coyotes," police wrote in a news release.

But one coyote expert questions whether police have done enough to confirm the assailant was a coyote, when a dog seems more likely.

People who claim to have seen a coyote often are proven wrong, said Lesley Sampson, founder and executive director of Coyote Watch Canada. That's even more the case when the witnesses are subjected to a trauma.

"When people are upset, they are even more likely to misidentify the animal," she said.

While Williamson says a coyote may stalk its prey from behind or the side, Sampson says it would be exceptionally rare for a coyote to leap up in a way that could knock someone down.

"Jumping up is not coyote behaviour, it's dog behaviour," she said.

Before anyone concludes the assailant was a coyote, police should share the evidence that led them to that conclusion. If all they have is the eyewitness account of the victim and her friend, that's not enough, Sampson said.

The attacking animal may have left clues — such as feces — that would show if it was a wild or domesticated animal, Sampson said.

Both Sampson and Williamson say key questions were left unanswered by police, who were not available to answer Free Press questions. Among them:

— Did the teenager or her friend have a dog that might have drawn a coyote or another dog to them?

— Did the teen or her friend have food that may attracted an animal?

There are coyotes in the city, said Williamson, but they're typically spotted close to dawn or dusk. They may even follow a person, since urban coyotes are less frightened of people than are rural coyotes.

A few have attacked dogs in the London region, he said. But he can't recall any attacking a person.  - LF Press.

Another completely lost bird: Slate-throated redstart, resident of humid highland forests, turns up on South Padre Island, Texas

Slate-throated redstart.
The equivalent of a bird watching home run came in the form of a rare black and red chested wonder known as the slate-throated redstart spotted near the of the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The long-tailed warbler, almost exclusively found in humid highland forests, and had wandered north of the border only a few times on record.

The spotting occurred last Wednesday by avid birders Don Erickson and Fred Welden from Nevada. As two were bird watching in the Nature Center's butterfly garden the morning of April 29 they came across the specimen and then informed knowledgeable birder Tammy Bulow of the unusual sighting. The Nature Center attempted to call to send an expert to properly identify the red-chested visitor, but those they did contact were hesitant out of disbelief that a bird of that caliber could be sighted so from its expected habitat.

Cristin Howard, SPI Birding and Nature Center Director of Marketing, credits the rapid additions of native vegetation planted in the area which drew the "hidden treasure" to the area.

"An hour later the two that had originally called that refused to come, came, and they could not believe it," she said. "It's only going to get better because we are planting more native plants and as we grow the birds will come here. So we're very fortunate to have this opportunity to be put, as they told me in the birding world, 'on the map'... so it's pretty exciting for us here."

Upon hearing about the remarkable visitor after it was posted online, bird enthusiasts came flocking from all over the country like the very birds they admire to the Island from north Texas, California, and Florida. The warbler has been sporadically spotted since it's initial discovery.

The Rio Grande Valley has long been considered one of the premier regions for bird watching and this recent discovery will likely only add to it's habitat notoriety.  -
Port Isabel-South Padre Press.

Over the past year dog attacks leave 48 people needing hospital treatment in Cornwall, UK

Pirate FM has learnt almost one person a week is ending up in hospital in Cornwall after being attacked by a dog.

Over the last year that has included a two year old boy and a ninety-four year old woman.

Almost forty ended up needing an operation, according to figures from Treliske.

Jessie from Redruth was attacked as a child, and then again when she set up a dog walking business.

Even though she has got the scars it has not put her off working with the animals.

She said: "I've looked at forums to see what people's opinions are and a lot of people say, 'put them down, they shouldn't be around, they're dangerous to other people and children' - and it depends, it always depends on the situation.

She blamed some of the behaviour on owners who struggle to look after or control their pets: "That's where a lot of the problems come from. They don't look after them, exercise or train them properly.

"Because of this they will have problems. Then they can accidentally bite someone - or purposefully attack somebody."

Hayle dog trainer and behaviourist Emma Davies told Pirate FM she thought the real attack figures were much higher than 48 over the last year: "A lot of them go unreported - especially if it is their own dog.

"I think a lot of people do have aggressive dogs and don't know how to deal with them or handle them. Therefore when they do take them out to the park or the beach they can cause a problem to other people.

"It's very difficult to say it's one problem. But I think people don't correct their dogs, they don't correct bad behaviour. That behaviour then escalates and it gets worse and worse and worse." - Pirate FM.

Family of black bears chases tourists in Yellowstone National Park

Cute, small and fluffy, these little black bears seemed to melt the hearts of visitors at Yellowstone National Park this week.

But their cooing soon turned into screams when the mother sow decided she'd had enough.

She started to chase, followed by her brood, and the tourists were forced to run.

'Keep going!': Tourists ran as a mother bear chased after them with her brood in Yellowstone National Park

Officials said they were in no doubt that the tourists were in danger as they fled the bears

'Keep going! Go! Go!' park ranger John Kerr shouts at the families as they leg it across a bridge in the Montana sanctuary.

At one point, one of the 13-month-old bears targets a teenage girl and follows her round the back of a car - before she jumps in the passenger's side.

And an elderly couple grip each others hands as they move as fast as possible.

WATCH: Keep going! Tourists chased by family of black bears.

Although the scene seems somewhat scattered and slow-paced, experts insist anything could have happened.

Had the bears been under the age of one year, the mother would have been relentless.

'These tourists were absolutely in danger,' Bob Gibson, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Communication & Education Program Manager, told NBC News.

'Black bears are usually shy of people. But you put them with their cubs and they get really protective. You never want to be between a bear and its cub.'

- Daily Mail.

Monkey menace gives sleepless nights to residents of Mumbai, India

A gang has been prowling the streets of the city, attacking its residents and spreading fear in some localities. And before you wonder whether the police have been informed, know that this gang is of monkeys.

Residents from Sion, Chunabhatti, Parel, Andheri-Marol and Bandra are finding themselves at their wits' end after frequent attacks by monkeys. On Thursday, an eight-year-old boy and a 35-year-old man were attacked in Parel.
In Parel, where the menace is particularly intense, monkeys have been found climbing buildings and reaching people's homes through windows and other open gaps. In one instance, they hopped up and reached the terrace of Laxmi Cottage building on Dr BA Ambedkar Road, where children were playing.

"On spotting the monkeys, the children started running and shouting for help. The monkeys started imitating them, and one caught hold of an eight-year-old, Reon Mudlari, and clung on his leg. Scared, the boy tried to stamp his feet and free himself. That's when the monkey hurt him with his claw and bit him," said Yogesh Panhale, animal rescuer who was roped in by the fire brigade.

A member of Manav Abhyas Sangh, Panhale is working under Sunil Kadam along with one Hakim Shaikh. The team is roped in by even forest department in cases of emergency.

Panhale added, "When fire brigade approached us, we reached the spot immediately. But by then another resident, 35-year-old Rajesh Pille, was attacked. Pille apparently was trying to feed the animal and divert its attention."

The team immediately laid a trap to catch the monkey but was successful only at 1.30am. "We handed the animal over to the forest department in Thane as per procedure," Panhale said.

In other parts of the city, residents of Marol, Andheri and Sion-Chunabhatti said monkeys have been entering their homes through windows, entering kitchen for food and even damaging property.

Bandra West resident Meena Pahalajani said monkeys have been spotted in the area for the past few months. They enter homes, leave taps open and then flee through the balcony. "Residents have visited the area's ward office several times but help is yet to come," she said.

The problem with regard to animal rescue in the city is that authorities lack the manpower and equipment to deal with such incidents.

Pawan Sharma of Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare said, "The prevailing methods of animal rescue in the city are not ethical or even legal. I have received many complaints from people who have witnessed animals being hurt in the process of being 'rescued'. The problem lies in the fact that there are no experts from the BMC or the Thane forest department to ensure that monkeys, or any animals for that matter, are properly rescued and rehabilitated."

When chief conservator of forests at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park Vikas Gupta was contacted, he said, "Instances of animal rescue within city limits are looked after by the Thane forest department and do not come under my jurisdiction."

A source from the forest department confirmed the same and said, "The department is poorly equipped and doesn't have experts or equipment to resolve such incidents."  - DNA India.

Non-migratory citril finch from mountains of mainland Europe found near beach in Holkham, UK

A picture of the rare citril finch at Burnham Overy dunes near Holkham.  © Mark Reeder

A citril finch was seen near pine trees at Burnham Overy dunes, west of Holkham beach, at about 8am today by Marcus Nash who runs Norfolk bird tours.

About 100 people rushed to the remote area after the sighting of the small songbird was recorded on Twitter and other birding information websites.

It is the second recorded sighting of a citril finch in Britain - the first was in 2008 when one was spotted on Fair Isle off Scotland.

Citril finches usually live in the mountains of south west Europe from Spain to the Alps and are not birds which usually migrate.

Distribution map for Citril Finch (Carduelis citrinella)

One of the birders who saw the creature was Simon Chadwick, 45, from Overstrand.

He said: "It is probably a once in a lifetime bird sighting in the county. It was really good to see. It was nice to see something so rare."

Mr Chadwick added some people had driven about 400 miles to see the bird.

WATCH: Citril Finch, Burnham Overy Dunes.

Another birder who drove from Sheffield to see it and photograph it was council worker Mark Reeder, 45.

He said: "It is a nice looking bird. Norfolk is a good place to spot birds." - Eastern Daily Press.

Dead Gray whale buried in Tijuana, Mexico

Workers bury a gray whale at the seashore of Playas de Tijuana, in Tijuana, northwest Mexico, May 7, 2015. The 15-meter and 14-ton gray whale was found dead here on Wednesday.

© Xinhua/Eduardo Jaramillo/NOTIMEX

© Xinhua/Eduardo Jaramillo/NOTIMEX

- The Sunday Leader.

EXTREME WEATHER: Wildfire Burns 2,400 Acres In Catskill Mountains, New York!

A fast-moving wildfire at the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains has affected more than 2,400 acres of state forest.

- A fire in Shawangunk Ridge State Forest in the Catskill Mountains of New York has burned over 2,000 acres of land.

The fire has been burning for four days and has been contained in areas of Sullivan and Ulser counties, according to local media.

It could take more than three more days to extinguish the fire that has burned more than 2,400 acres, which is more than four square miles.

The fire has caused evacuations, and officials believe the fire started when a homeowner burned debris outside, violating a state-wide burn ban. The burn ban is in effect until May 15.

WATCH: New York State Wildfire (Roosa Gap Fire).

- Yahoo.

EXTREME WEATHER: Tornado And Severe Storms Hit Northern Germany - Widespread Destruction; One Person Killed!

May 7, 2015 - GERMANY
- Severe storms in northern Germany have left at least one person dead and caused widespread destruction.

Worst hit was the town of Bützow near the northern port of Rostock, where bricks lay scattered in the streets and cars were reportedly thrown meters into the air.

A 26-year-old man was killed in the northern port city of Hamburg when parts of a roof toppled onto his car in the downtown harbourside area, also badly injuring his pregnant girlfriend who was seated next to him.

WATCH: Tornado as violent storms batter northern Germany.

While tornadoes are frequent across the plains in the United States, where up to 1,000 form every year, it is unusual for large tornadoes to form in Europe.

The swirling storm cloud is created by warm humid air rising and hitting cooler air. As the warm air rises faster, winds from different directions can cause it to rotate, leading to a funnel forming. - The Telegraph.

EXTREME WEATHER: Dust Storm Hits New South Wales And Victoria, Australia!

Gusts of up to 67km/h were still being felt as the thick dust moved in

May 7, 2015 - AUSTRALIA
- Red dust covered much of northwestern Victoria and the west of New South Wales yesterday, making its way into the border city of Mildura, Victoria, shortly after noon as gale force westerly winds culminated with a dust storm.

A cold front moved rapidly through western and central Victoria on Tuesday morning before weakening in the east in the afternoon.

The Bureau of Meterology issued a severe weather warning for numerous districts, including the Mallee, late on Tuesday as damaging winds swept across the state.

Dust storm, Australia.

Mildura weather station recorded a peak gust of 69 kilometres an hour about 11.41am. Gusts of up to 67km/h were still being felt as the thick dust moved in.

A sharp drop in temperature coincided with the dust storm, falling almost five degrees between 12pm and 12.27pm, to 14.5C, with the 'apparent temperature' as low as 7.1C a few minutes later.  - Stock Journal.

EXTREME WEATHER: Multiple Tornadoes Strike United States - Homes Damaged, Airport Evacuated In Oklahoma After Tornadoes, Floods And Severe Storms; And Tornado Destroys Homes In Mount Hope, Kansas!

A large tornado just to the west of Halstead on Wednesday afternoon. Travis Heying, The Wichita Eagle.

May 7, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- Multiple tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma and Kansas on Wednesday.

Homes damaged, airport evacuated in Oklahoma after tornadoes, floods & severe storms

In Oklahoma, the severe weather system forced the evacuation of the state's main commercial airport as a safety precaution. At least one large twister also damaged homes and buildings in the Oklahoma City area.

In addition to severe storms and tornadoes, Oklahoma residents had to contend with power outages, golf-ball-sized hail, and flooding. Even wild animals got loose at one town's Tiger Safari wildlife refuge.

One of the day's largest tornadoes, according to local CBS affiliate KWTV, occurred around 4:30 pm local time and resulted in the formation of several satellite twisters. The big storm, whose main tornado measured about a quarter-mile wide, caused damage in Bridge Creek, Blanchard, Norman and Newcastle in the central part of the state.

Less than four hours later, another large tornado sprouted from the same storm near Bridge Creek. A daycare center was reportedly struck, but fortunately all the children and staff had already been moved to a shelter.

© Reuters / Gene Blevins

This is what's left of the Bridge Creek Fire Department after hit by tornado @NEWS9 #okwx
Justin Dougherty

PHOTO of damage in Bridge Creek from @NewsOKPhoto's Steve Sisney #okwx

An aerial view of the storm damage in Bridge Creek  @NEWS9 #okwx
Lisa Monahan

Heavy rain is making Moore streets a nightmare tonight: …
Robert Morris

Downtown/Midtown flooding.
JoBeth Hamon

Aerial views of Bridge Creek from local news outlets also show wide swathes of damage from the storm. So far, no injuries have been reported, but 25 buildings were destroyed, according to the Associated Press.

Another 10 were destroyed in Amber, some 12 miles west of Bridge Creek.

Due to the dangerous weather, the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City was evacuated as a precaution. Flooding was reported at one of the terminals and people were advised not to drop off or pick up travelers at the airport.

In the city of Tuttle, the Tiger Safari animal refuge was struck by a tornado and owners told KFOR that some of the wild creatures had escaped. In addition to tigers, the refuge houses leopards, boa constrictors, alligators and a cheetah. Those living in the area were asked to remain inside of their homes, but police later said all animals had been accounted for.

Homes and business were also reported flooded in Moore, about 12 miles south of Oklahoma City, and Tuttle, according to KFOR.

Oklahoma City itself was not spared large amounts of rainfall, either.

Severe thunderstorm, flash flood and tornado warnings were in effect across numerous counties in the state.

More storms may be on the way later this week,, leading experts to urge caution.

"People just really need to stay weather aware, have a plan and understand that severe storms are possible across portions of the southern Plains almost daily through Saturday," National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Kurtz told AP. - RT.

Tornado destroys homes in Mount Hope, Kansas

Add caption
Escorted by her son, Charmaine Foraker walked out to the field where her childhood house was now strewn in pieces to the northeast of Mount Hope.

Family members hugged her as she surveyed the bits of the roughly 100-year-old farmhouse that was destroyed by a tornado Wednesday afternoon.

A tornado spawned at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday north of Mount Hope, northwest of Wichita, destroying at least three buildings before lifting about 45 minutes later near Burrton.

The farmhouse, a modular home and a garage were destroyed near 247th and 117th streets northeast of Mount Hope.

Craig Foraker lived in the modular home with his wife and 17-year-old son. The son was alone in the modular home when the tornado came through.

WATCH: Eye-witness describes tornado in Harvey County.

He was taken to Newton Medical Center to be examined for minor injuries, Craig Foraker said. As of 7 p.m., the hospital had no record of the boy being admitted.

Inside the garage sat an old restored Ford Model A car, which was damaged but likely salvageable.

The tornado grew from a weak rope to a healthy stovepipe in just a matter of minutes, storm chaser Jim Reed said. He noticed debris in the sky, he said, but he did not know where the debris came from.

More storms could possibly hit the area from the southwest as the night goes on, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

In southern Kansas, storms will be scattered. But conditions are "very favorable for very large hail and tornadoes with any storms that form," the center said.
A tornado warning for Sedgwick County has been canceled.

The county is still under a tornado watch until 2 a.m. Thursday. - The Wichita Eagle.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Powerful 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Papua New Guinea - Local Tsunami Warning Lifted! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location map.

May 7, 2015 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA
- A powerful earthquake rattled Papua New Guinea on Thursday, the fourth strong quake to hit the South Pacific island nation in a week. The temblor prompted officials to issue a local tsunami warning, but it was lifted shortly afterwards with no reports of damage.

The 7.1-magnitude quake struck about 150 kilometers (94 miles) southwest of the town of Panguna on Bougainville Island at a depth of 23 kilometers (14 miles), the US Geological Survey reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of up to 1 meter (3 feet) were possible within 300 kilometers (186 miles) of the epicenter on the coast of Papua New Guinea. The agency lifted the warning about an hour later.

USGS shakemap intensity.

There were no reports of damage, said Chris McKee, assistant director of the Geophysical Observatory in the capital, Port Moresby. Because the epicenter was so far offshore, the chance of serious damage on land was less likely, he said.

“The earthquake appears to have not been as big as first estimated,” McKee said. “I think the threat from that event is basically passed now. So we’ll just wait for the next one.”

Thursday’s quake was located in a different area of Papua New Guinea than the previous three temblors that rattled the region over the past week, and was therefore an unrelated event, McKee said. Still, the area has been unusually active.

“We think it’s probably something along the lines of just regional readjustment _ movements in one area allow stress to be redistributed and that allows other areas to rupture,” McKee said.

Betha Lorenz, owner of Rising Sun Lodge in the town of Arawa on Bougainville Island, said the quake delivered a powerful jolt, but did not appear to have caused any damage.

“One of my neighbors … she ran down the stairs and I was laughing and she said, ‘Am I gonna live?’ and I said `Yeah, nothing will happen _ just relax,”’ Lorenz said.

When the shaking started, Lorenz ran outside, but the rumbling ended a few seconds later. Her lodge weathered the quake with no damage, and she hadn’t heard of any tsunami waves hitting the coast.

“Everyone is OK,” she said with a laugh. “We are happy.”

Papua New Guinea sits on the Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common. - Indian Express.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity

The May 7, 2015 M 7.1 earthquake southwest of Panguna, Papua New Guinea, occurred as the result of normal faulting within the Australia plate, a few tens of kilometers to the southwest of the plate boundary where Australia begins its subduction beneath the Pacific plate at the New Britain Trench. At the location of the earthquake, the Australia plate moves towards the east-northeast at a velocity of 103 mm/yr with respect to the Pacific plate. The moment tensor and location of the event are consistent with its occurrence near what has been termed the outer rise region outboard of the subduction zone, rather than further to the north on the plate boundary (thrust) interface. Note that at the location of the earthquake, some researchers divide the edges of the Australia and Pacific plates into several microplates that take up the overall convergence between Australia and the Pacific, including the Solomon Sea microplate local to this event. The Solomon Sea plate moves slightly faster and more northeasterly with respect to the Pacific plate than does Australia due to sea-floor spreading in the Woodlark Basin a few hundred kilometers to the southeast of the May 7 earthquake, facilitating the classic subduction evident beneath New Britain and the Solomon Islands.

While commonly plotted as points on maps, earthquakes of this size are more appropriately described as slip over a larger fault area. Events of the magnitude of the May 7, 2015 earthquake are typically about 45x20 km in size (length x width).

The plate boundary between the Australia and Pacific plates in the Papua New Guinea region is very active seismically; 26 M 7+ events have occurred within 250 km of the May 7, 2015 earthquake over the past century. Most occurred on the subduction zone thrust interface to the north of this event, and few are known to have caused shaking-related fatalities because of the remoteness of the region. Just one of these large nearby events was the result of normal faulting to the south of the plate boundary – a M7.0 earthquake in October 1987, 15 km to the southwest of the May 7, 2015 event.

The May 7 earthquake has also been preceded by a series of moderate-to-large earthquakes on the portion of the plate boundary several hundred kilometers to the northwest over the past 6 weeks, beginning with a M 7.5 event on March 29, 2015, and continuing with another M 7.5 earthquake on May 5, 2015. The May 7 earthquake is also 75 km to the southwest of a M 7.5 earthquake in April of 2014, just offshore of the North Solomon Islands.
The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.

Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.

Further east at the New Britain trench, the relative motions of several microplates surrounding the Australia-Pacific boundary, including north-south oriented seafloor spreading in the Woodlark Basin south of the Solomon Islands, maintain the general northward subduction of Australia-affiliated lithosphere beneath Pacific-affiliated lithosphere. Most of the large and great earthquakes east of New Guinea are related to this subduction; such earthquakes are particularly concentrated at the cusp of the trench south of New Ireland. 33 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900, including three shallow thrust fault M8.1 events in 1906, 1919, and 2007.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.

Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than 100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.

The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.

In the east, this boundary extends from the Kai Islands to Sumba along the Timor trough, offset from the Sunda trench by 250 km south of Sumba. Contrary to earlier tectonic models in which this trough was interpreted as a subduction feature continuous with the Sunda subduction zone, it is now thought to represent a subsiding deformational feature related to the collision of the Australia plate continental margin and the volcanic arc of the Eurasia plate, initiating in the last 5-8 Myr. Before collision began, the Sunda subduction zone extended eastward to at least the Kai Islands, evidenced by the presence of a northward-dipping zone of seismicity beneath Timor Leste. A more detailed examination of the seismic zone along it's eastern segment reveals a gap in intermediate depth seismicity under Timor and seismic mechanisms that indicate an eastward propagating tear in the descending slab as the negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere detaches from positively buoyant continental lithosphere. On the surface, GPS measurements indicate that the region around Timor is currently no longer connected to the Eurasia plate, but instead is moving at nearly the same velocity as the Australia plate, another consequence of collision.

Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics