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Updated 2 May 2017 - 5 stories|
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Very strong M6.8 earthquake hits
Philippines, tsunami warnings issued
A very strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.8
(downgraded from M7.2) hit near the coast of Mindanao, Philippines
at 20:23 UTC on April 28, 2017 (04:23 local time on April 29). The
agency is reporting a depth of 41.7 km (25.9 miles). PHIVOLCS is
reporting M7.2 at a depth of 87 km (54 miles). (EMSC, GFZ Potsdam).
Tsunami warnings have been issued.
According to the USGS, the epicenter was located 26.8 km (16.6 mi)
WSW of Balangonan (population 2 329) and 36.4 km (22.6 mi) SSW of
Glan (population 24 256), Philippines.
There are 1 802 246 people living within 100 km (62 miles). EMSC
estimated there are 6.2 million people in the felt area.
Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters (M7.2), hazardous
tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 km (186
miles) of the earthquake epicenter, PTWC said at 20:29 UTC.
PTWC Tsunami Threat Message No2 issued 20:52 UTC (M6.9 / depth 43 km
"Based on all available data, hazardous tsunami waves are forecast
for some coasts. Tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meters (1 - 3.3
feet) above the tide level are possible for some coasts of
Philippines. Tsunami waves are forecast to be less than 0.3 meters
above the tide level for the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau
* A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES. THE TIME BETWEEN WAVE CRESTS
CAN VARY FROM 5 MINUTES TO AN HOUR. THE HAZARD MAY PERSIST
FOR MANY HOURS OR LONGER AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE.
* IMPACTS CAN VARY SIGNIFICANTLY FROM ONE SECTION OF COAST TO
THE NEXT DUE TO LOCAL BATHYMETRY AND THE SHAPE AND ELEVATION
OF THE SHORELINE.
* IMPACTS CAN ALSO VARY DEPENDING UPON THE STATE OF THE TIDE AT
THE TIME OF THE MAXIMUM TSUNAMI WAVES.
* PERSONS CAUGHT IN THE WATER OF A TSUNAMI MAY DROWN... BE
CRUSHED BY DEBRIS IN THE WATER... OR BE SWEPT OUT TO SEA.
At 21:03 UTC (05:03 local time), PHIVOLCS issued the following
A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 occurred
Sarangani on (2017/04/29) at 04:23 AM (Philippine Standard Time)
located at 05.48 oN, 125.32 oE with depth of 87 km.
SEA LEVEL DISTURBANCES such as strong currents and rapid rise and
fall of seawaters are expected. The concerned public is advised to
be on alert for unusual waves. Based on tsunami wave models and
early tide gauge records of the tsunami in the Philippine Sea,
coastal areas in Philippine provinces fronting the Celebes Sea are
expected to experience wave heights of less than one meter above the
normal tide levels. The first tsunami waves will arrive between 4:28
AM to 5:23 AM, (2017/04/29) (PST) and may not be the largest. These
waves may continue for hours.
People are advised to STAY AWAY FROM THE BEACH AND NOT TO GO TO THE
COAST fronting Celebes Sea of the following provinces during this
period 4:28 AM to 5:23 AM and until the threat has passed:
Sarangani, Davao Occidental, South Cotabato, Davao Oriental, and
USGS issued a green alert for shaking-related fatalities and
economic losses. There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage.
Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that
are a mix of vulnerable and earthquake resistant construction. The
predominant vulnerable building types are reinforced concrete and
unknown/miscellaneous types construction.
Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such
as landslides that might have contributed to losses.
Seismotectonics of the Philippine Sea and vicinity
The Philippine Sea plate is bordered by the larger Pacific and
Eurasia plates and the smaller Sunda plate. The Philippine Sea plate
is unusual in that its borders are nearly all zones of plate
convergence. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, south
of Japan, beneath the Izu-Bonin and Mariana island arcs, which
extend more than 3,000 km along the eastern margin of the Philippine
Sea plate. This subduction zone is characterized by rapid plate
convergence and high-level seismicity extending to depths of over
600 km. In spite of this extensive zone of plate convergence, the
plate interface has been associated with few great (M>8.0)
‘megathrust’ earthquakes. This low seismic energy release is thought
to result from weak coupling along the plate interface (Scholz and
Campos, 1995). These convergent plate margins are also associated
with unusual zones of back-arc extension (along with resulting
seismic activity) that decouple the volcanic island arcs from the
remainder of the Philippine Sea Plate (Karig et al., 1978; Klaus et
South of the Mariana arc, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath the
Yap Islands along the Yap trench. The long zone of Pacific plate
subduction at the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate is
responsible for the generation of the deep Izu-Bonin, Mariana, and
Yap trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes,
typical of circum-pacific island arcs. Similarly, the northwestern
margin of the Philippine Sea plate is subducting beneath the Eurasia
plate along a convergent zone, extending from southern Honshu to the
northeastern coast of Taiwan, manifested by the Ryukyu Islands and
the Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu) trench. The Ryukyu Subduction Zone is
associated with a similar zone of back-arc extension, the Okinawa
Trough. At Taiwan, the plate boundary is characterized by a zone of
arc-continent collision, whereby the northern end of the Luzon
island arc is colliding with the buoyant crust of the Eurasia
continental margin offshore China.
Along its western margin, the Philippine Sea plate is associated
with a zone of oblique convergence with the Sunda Plate. This highly
active convergent plate boundary extends along both sides the
Philippine Islands, from Luzon in the north to the Celebes Islands
in the south. The tectonic setting of the Philippines is unusual in
several respects: it is characterized by opposite-facing subduction
systems on its east and west sides; the archipelago is cut by a
major transform fault, the Philippine Fault; and the arc complex
itself is marked by active volcanism, faulting, and high seismic
activity. Subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate occurs at the
eastern margin of the archipelago along the Philippine Trench and
its northern extension, the East Luzon Trough. The East Luzon Trough
is thought to be an unusual example of a subduction zone in the
process of formation, as the Philippine Trench system gradually
extends northward (Hamburger et al., 1983). On the west side of
Luzon, the Sunda Plate subducts eastward along a series of trenches,
including the Manila Trench in the north, the smaller less
well-developed Negros Trench in the central Philippines, and the
Sulu and Cotabato trenches in the south (Cardwell et al., 1980). At
its northern and southern terminations, subduction at the Manila
Trench is interrupted by arc-continent collision, between the
northern Philippine arc and the Eurasian continental margin at
Taiwan and between the Sulu-Borneo Block and Luzon at the island of
Mindoro. The Philippine fault, which extends over 1,200 km within
the Philippine arc, is seismically active. The fault has been
associated with major historical earthquakes, including the
destructive M7.6 Luzon earthquake of 1990 (Yoshida and Abe, 1992). A
number of other active intra-arc fault systems are associated with
high seismic activity, including the Cotabato Fault and the Verde
Passage-Sibuyan Sea Fault (Galgana et al., 2007).
Relative plate motion vectors near the Philippines (about 80 mm/yr)
is oblique to the plate boundary along the two plate margins of
central Luzon, where it is partitioned into orthogonal plate
convergence along the trenches and nearly pure translational motion
along the Philippine Fault (Barrier et al., 1991). Profiles B and C
reveal evidence of opposing inclined seismic zones at intermediate
depths (roughly 70-300 km) and complex tectonics at the surface
along the Philippine Fault.
Several relevant tectonic elements, plate boundaries and active
volcanoes, provide a context for the seismicity presented on the
main map. The plate boundaries are most accurate along the axis of
the trenches and more diffuse or speculative in the South China Sea
and Lesser Sunda Islands. The active volcanic arcs (Siebert and
Simkin, 2002) follow the Izu, Volcano, Mariana, and Ryukyu island
chains and the main Philippine islands parallel to the Manila,
Negros, Cotabato, and Philippine trenches.
Seismic activity along the boundaries of the Philippine Sea Plate
(Allen et al., 2009) has produced 7 great (M>8.0) earthquakes and
250 large (M>7) events. Among the most destructive events were the
1923 Kanto, the 1948 Fukui and the 1995 Kobe (Japan) earthquakes
(99,000, 5,100, and 6,400 casualties, respectively), the 1935 and
the 1999 Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquakes (3,300 and 2,500 casualties,
respectively), and the 1976 M7.6 Moro Gulf and 1990 M7.6 Luzon
(Philippines) earthquakes (7,100 and 2,400 casualties,
respectively). There have also been a number of tsunami-generating
events in the region, including the Moro Gulf earthquake, whose
tsunami resulted in more than 5000 deaths.
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Lyme Disease Outlook 2017: Why The
Risk For Tick-Spread Condition Is Growing
Talk of an upcoming antibiotic-resistant superbug incites fear and
paranoia, but there is one potential outbreak that gets little
attention, even though some say it’s coming as early as this year.
Lyme disease is on the verge of causing a public health emergency,
according to Dr. Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist, who spoke to
New Scientist about the issue.
Ostfeld tells the magazine that climate change is causing Lyme
disease to sprout up in places that previously weren’t problems,
which is made worse since people in these uninfected areas don’t
know how to fix the problem. In addition to the United States,
Europe is set to have an outbreak in 2018, reports New Scientist.
The warmer winters is producing more abundant harvests, which in
turn feed the mice population. The mice bring ticks. As the magazine
reports, ticks feast on mice blood, passing on a bacteria that
causes the disease.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control estimates about 300,00
cases of Lyme disease per year, but many professionals believe the
number is actually much higher than reported. While high, the
current figures may not be alarming enough to create the market for
a vaccine. In 2002, manufacturers pulled a Lyme disease vaccine off
the market citing insufficient demand. However, researchers are
currently working on a new one.
Read: Do I Have Lyme Disease? Symptoms, Chronic Risks, And
Treatments For The Infection
Lyme disease is spread by a tick bite and is typically an area of
concern for those who spend a lot of time outdoors, like campers and
hikers. High-risk regions include the northeast and upper Midwest,
but as Ostfeld says, such regions are expanding. To avoid the
disease, Mayo Clinic recommends covering up fully when outside by
wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants; using insect repellants;
checking your body for signs of ticks after spending time outdoors;
and removing a tick with pliers.
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Alarming meningitis death toll
It is very sad that the northern part of Nigeria, which falls within
the Sub-Saharan African meningitis belt, has continued to witness an
aggressive outbreak of the deadly Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis (CSM),
claiming lives in large numbers. This is a disgrace to Nigeria
because the deaths were preventable and the country has enough
experience of the scourge to have prepared much better for the
current outbreak. In 1996, several thousands of lives were lost.
Also, in 2009, Bauchi State confirmed the death of not less than 51
people; Gombe State, 22; Kano State, 32; and in Zamfara State, at
least 18 people died. In 2016, about 33 people died as a result of
This year, Nigeria is witnessing another outbreak and history is
about to repeat itself on a higher scale if the figures of the
‘harvest’ of death as a result of the disease are anything to go by.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the
outbreak in five states with at least 282 deaths already, while
about 1,966 suspected cases have been recorded. Out of 109 fully
confirmed cases, Zamfara has the highest number of 44, followed by
Katsina with 32, Sokoto 19, Kebbi 10 and Niger 4.
Meanwhile, for the first time this year, the Federal Capital
Territory (FCT) Administration has also recorded the death of four
residents as a result of meningitis. These horrible developments are
coming on the heels of the report that malnutrition may kill 1.4
million children in Nigeria and three other nations.
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a
serious infection of the meninges that affects the brain membrane.
It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50 per cent of
cases if untreated. Some of the symptoms are fever, headache,
catarrh, stiff neck and in advanced cases sardonic laughter. The
recurrence and magnitude of loss of lives from CSM show poor
surveillance and control of the disease. This is unfortunate because
it is a known fact that CSM is prevalent in the north of Nigeria due
to the scorching heat. Also, poor ventilation, desert encroachment
leading to dry and dusty wind, climate change, and poor hygiene are
worsening the situation. Children aged 5-14 years are more
susceptible to the disease because their immune systems are not well
developed. Despite these known facts, there have been several
outbreaks still. So, the question is: what is this nation ever
prepared for? Nigerians are left to the vagaries of life while the
leaders do nothing. Not even enough work on preventive health!
This is worrisome because media reports have it that the World
Health Organisation, (WHO) and partners including National Primary
Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), UNICEF, Nigeria Field
Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, eHealth Africa,
Médecins Sans Frontières, Rotary International, and NCDC are
providing support for the current outbreak.
It is a shame that Nigeria responds more to disease outbreak instead
of prevention. A visit to some immunisation centres even reveal that
vaccines for Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib); Rotavirus (diarrhoea
and vomiting); Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR); Chicken Pox;
Typhoid Fever; and Meningitis are not available for free. The only
vaccines that are free are Hepatitis B; Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV);
BCG; Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DPT); Measles; and Vitamin A
Although, the magnitude differs, CSM epidemic is somewhat a yearly
ritual. As such Nigeria should be on red alert. So, the National
Programme on Immunisation (NPI) should make meningitis vaccine as
part of the free routine immunisations. In addition, government at
all levels and religious leaders should embark on massive
enlightenment programmes to educate the citizens on the prevention
of CSM through the use of vaccines and sleeping in cross-ventilated
as well as hygienic rooms. Citizens should be enlightened on the
nature of the disease and symptoms; the need to quickly visit nearby
medical centres for early treatment when they notice the symptoms.
Health-related NGOs should also embark on massive sensitisation on
the prevention and treatment of CSM instead of fleecing funders.
Students at various levels of education should be made to undergo
health screening and immunised as appropriate. Individuals and
parents should also take personal responsibility for their health
and those of their children by ensuring that all members of their
families are immunised against CSM.
In addition, the federal and state governments should set up an
inter-agency epidemic rapid response team with membership from the
affected states, health officers, experts and members of the media
to curtail the outbreak. Also, this team should not be an ad-hoc
body to be disbanded after the epidemic but should be a permanent
one with the capacity to respond as appropriate. It should not be
starved of funds and other resources to enhance its effectiveness
and efficiency in order to save the nation the tragedy of
preventable deaths. Trees should be planted around homes. Tree
planting should indeed, be seen as a form of primary health care. As
a result, Northern state governments should step up their tree
planting campaigns towards ensuring a more livable environment and
preventing the ravages of diseases.
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Wars and Rumors of Wars
threatens Israel with 'merciless, thousand-fold punishment
Pyongyang bluntly tells Jerusalem to back off after defense minster
calls leader "a madman."
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hurt the "dignity of the
supreme leadership" of North Korea, state-run Korean Central News
Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday. The comment was in reaction to
Israeli remarks on how the Jewish State is affected by North Korean
tension with the United States.
In an interview with Hebrew news site Walla this week, the hawkish
Liberman stated that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is a madman
and that together with the leaders of Iran and Syria was part of an
“insane and radical” gang that was bent on undermining international
"The reckless remarks of the Israeli defense minister are sordid and
wicked behavior and grave challenge to the DPRK [North Korea]," the
North Korean statement read.
The statement also claimed that Israel, while working with the US,
was the Middle East's only illegal owner of nuclear weapons.
"This is the cynical ploy to escape the world denunciation and curse
as disturber of peace in the Middle East, occupier of the Arab
territories and culprit of crimes against humanity," the spokesman
The access to nuclear power is a "righteous right for self-defense
to cope with the US provocative moves for aggression," the statement
The statement threatened Israel and anyone who "dares hurt the
dignity of its supreme leadership," with "merciless, thousand-fold
The statement ended with a warning to Israel to "think twice about
the consequences to be entailed by its smear campaign against the
DPRK [North Korea] to cover up the crimes of occupying Arab
territories and disturbing peace process in the Middle East."
Last Tuesday a senior IDF officer told reporters at a special
briefing that ongoing tension between North Korea and the US could
impact Israel’s security.
The officer referred to the developing diplomatic rift between the
US and the peninsula following North Korea’s recent and defiant
attempts to extend its nuclear activity, despite repeated warnings
from the West.
He explained that Israel could bear the brunt of such an escalation
in the relations between Washington and Pyongyang should it occur,
because the US would have to divert security resources from the
Middle East to Korea.
Joy Bernard contributed to this article.
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Ethiopia drought creates food
crisis for 7.7 million
The number of people in need of food aid in Ethiopia's drought-hit
regions has surged to 7.7 million, over two million more than an
estimate earlier this year, state media reported Friday.
The National Disaster Risk Management Commission said in January
that failed rains would leave 5.6 million people in need of
emergency food this year in three of the country's nine regions:
Oromia, Amhara and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples'
Public relations director Ababe Zewdie told the state-run Ethiopian
News Agency that cold snaps as well as localized flooding in some
areas have further decimated what crops had managed to grow, causing
them to revise upwards their estimates.
"Over $742 million (679 million euros) is needed to support the
people affected by drought and more than 432,000 tonnes of
additional food up until early July," the news agency reported.
Ethiopia is prone to droughts, and the lack of rains in the
country's highlands forced 10.2 million people to seek food
assistance last year.
The United Nations has warned that this year's drought in East
Africa could lead to 17 million people going hungry across the
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