Monday, 30 June 2008

A Ten Day wonder

Unless you were one of the millions of Chinese affected by it, the Great Sichuan earthquake was another of those ten day wonders in the news. Here are some of the statistics at the end of June.

The 2008 Sichuan earthquake measured at 8.0 Ms[6] and 8.3 Mw[7] according to China Seismological Bureau (CSB), and 7.9 Mw according to USGS, occurred at 14:28:01.42 CST (06:28:01.42 UTC) on 12 May 2008 in Sichuan province of China. It was also known as the Wenchuan earthquake after the earthquake's epicenter in Wenchuan County, Sichuan province. The epicenter was 80 kilometres (50 mi) west-northwest of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, with a depth of 19 kilometres (12 mi).
The earthquake was felt as far away as Beijing (1,500 kilometres (932 mi) away) and Shanghai (1,700 kilometres (1,056 mi) away), where office buildings swayed with the tremor. The earthquake was also felt in nearby countries.

Official figures state that 69,185 were confirmed dead by late June, including 68,636 in Sichuan province, and 374,171 injured, with 18,467 listed as missing. The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless, though the number could be as high as 11 million. It is the deadliest and strongest earthquake to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which killed at least 240,000 people. Approximately 15 million people lived in the affected area.

On May 25, a major aftershock of 6.0 Mw hit northeast of the original earthquake's epicenter, in Qingchuan County, causing eight deaths, 1000 injuries, and destroyed thousands of buildings. On May 27, two more major aftershocks, a 5.2 Mw in Qingchuan County and a 5.7 Mw in Ningqiang in Shaanxi Province, led to the collapse of more than 420,000 homes and injured 63 people.

And for most of us in the Western World that’s all this disaster was – another set of statistics. In the Eighteenth Century the church would have initiated a Fast Day a few weeks after the disaster to remind people of the event and to allow for money to be collected for the victims. Perhaps we need to go back to something like that before the news media make us too inured to the hardships of others.

Spain win Euro 2008

I watched the Euro 2008 Final – the only match of the tournament I’ve watched though I glanced at one of the semi-finals. Fernando Torres (the Liverpool striker) scored first for Spain. That turned out to be the only goal. Bye, bye Germany,

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Javan Rhino, Grey-faced Elephant Shrew, and a Long-eared Jerboa

Remarkable images of the world's rarest rhino species, the Javan rhino, have been caught on film. A mother and her calf could be seen grazing in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia. But when she spotted the hidden camera, she charged and sent it flying.

Meanwhile, a bizarre-looking mammal called the grey-faced elephant shrew has been discovered in Tanzania. It didn't charge the camera...

A desert 'Mickey Mouse' has also been caught on film. The first known footage of a long-eared jerboa in the wild was filmed in the Mongolian Gobi desert.