Monday, May 12, 2008

Beekeepers Report Continued Heavy Losses From Colony Collapse Disorder

ScienceDaily (May 12, 2008) — The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Apiary Inspectors of America have conducted a combined survey of beekeepers to get a snapshot of how well managed colonies made it through the winter of 2007-08.

Surveyed beekeepers reported a total loss of about 36.1 percent of their honey bee colonies, up about 13.5 percent from the previous winter. Losses attributed to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) appear to be about the same, with just over one-third (36 percent) of the operations reporting some lost colonies in which all adult bees disappeared, a primary symptom of CCD, according to Jeff Pettis, research leader of the ARS Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

The combined survey, which was conducted by telephone interview, checked on nearly 19 percent of the country's 2.44 million colonies.

ARS is continuing to vigorously seek the cause or causes of CCD.

Strongest quake in 40 years rattles Midwest

Posted 6:04 pm EDT

— A 5.2 magnitude earthquake centered in southeast Illinois that was the strongest in the Midwest in 40 years startled residents before dawn on Friday, but officials reported no injuries and only minor damage.

The quake, the strongest since a 5.4 magnitude quake in November 1968, could be felt as far west as Kansas, as far east as Georgia and as far north as Michigan's Upper Peninsula, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"Earthquakes of comparable size are felt over greater distances in the East than those occurring in the West," noted USGS seismologist Harley Benz.

Experts say soil conditions in the central United States are such that shocks in the region tend to travel farther and be felt in wider areas than in places such as California where they would be more quickly absorbed.

Friday's quake, classified as "moderate" by the USGS, was centered five miles northeast of Bellmont, Illinois, in the southeastern part of the state along the Indiana border in an area near Kentucky.

Tornadoes kill 21, injure hundreds in U.S

— Tornadoes killed at least 21 people and injured hundreds as they ripped through the central and southeastern United States over the weekend, destroying homes, overturning cars and downing trees and power lines.

Authorities said 14 people died in Missouri, six in Oklahoma and one in Georgia as the storms tracked a course from the border of Kansas and Oklahoma on Saturday into Georgia on Sunday.

Georgia authorities said earlier two had died in the state.

Twelve people were killed and more than 150 houses were damaged in Newton County, Missouri, on the Oklahoma border, said Susie Stonner of Missouri's Emergency Management Agency.

Hardest hit was Racine, a tiny community in Newton County about 170 miles south of Kansas City.

The path of destruction was a mile wide in some places, said Jason Schaumann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Missouri.

More than 8,600 confirmed dead in China earthquake: Xinhua

More than 8,600 people died in the powerful earthquake that struck southwestern China on Monday, according to state media reports.

The quake, with a magnitude of 7.8, struck close to densely populated areas in Sichuan province, including the capital Chengdu, shortly before 2:30 pm (0630 GMT).

Xinhua news agency said 8,533 people had died in Sichuan on Monday, citing the local government.

The national disaster relief headquarters reported 48 killed in northwestern Gansu province, 50 in the municipality of Chongqing, 61 in Shaanxi province and one in southwestern Yunnan, according to Xinhua.

All of those provinces and Chongqing, a special municipality of more than 30 million people, border Sichuan.

Tallied together, Xinhua has reported the deaths of 8,693 people.

At least 30 people were killed in Wenchuan, the epicentre of the earthquake, Xinhua said, but added the number of deaths there was likely to rise as the rescuers had been unable to reach the county.

Roads leading to Wenchuan had been destroyed and storms had prevented military rescue helicopters from getting there, Xinhua and other state-media reports said.

In Sichuan's Beichuan county, which is close to Wenchuan, the number of deaths was estimated at more than 3,000, with 80 percent of the buildings there destroyed, according to Xinhua.

Xinhua reported earlier that 900 students were buried in the collapse of a high school building in Dujiangyan city, also in Sichuan.

Fifty people have been confirmed dead at that school, the news agency said.

Hundreds of people were also buried in two chemical plants in Shifang city, Sichuan, and more than 6,000 people nearby were evacuated, Xinhua said.