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7.7 earthquake jolts CNMI
by Ferdie De La Torre

Many CNMI residents were awakened when a 7.7-magnitude earthquake jolted the Mariana Islands Saturday morning at 7:18am.

According to the U.S. Geological Service, the earthquake’s epicenter was at 316 kilometers south-southwest of Agrihan at a depth of 212.4 kilometers.

Based on available data, there was no tsunami threat.

Saipan Tribune learned that there were no reports of injuries or damage to property.

There were small aftershocks recorded.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres on Saturday asked the public to keep themselves and their families safe “as the situation continues to develop.”

The CNMI Joint Information Center did not indicate the cause of the earthquake and its duration.

Glenn, a resident of Finasisu, said he was watching TV on the couch when the two-story apartment building started to shake.

Glenn said as the TV was shaking hard, he stood up next to the door and observed if the ceiling would collapse as the temblor took several seconds.

“I was scared! When I looked outside a few of my neighbors also went to their doors, telling that it was a strong earthquake,” he said.

Josephine, 45, a resident in Chalan Kanoa, said she was awakened when her bed was shaking hard.

Josephine said when she realized it was an earthquake she immediately stood to check her children who were still sleeping.

Josephine said she immediately checked her Facebook if there’s a tsunami warning, and that she was happy that there was none.

“It was long and scary!” she said.

On Rota, it was felt but not that strong.

Firefighter Christopher Hocog said not everyone felt the earthquake.

Hocog said when it happened he did not feel it as he was in a vehicle.

On Tinian, people felt the strong earthquake.

Fire cadet Esteven Sablan said he was sleeping in his house at the time when he felt the shake.

“Other people felt it,” Sablan said.

The earthquake was also felt in Guam.

UN Says over 56 Million People Suffer Famine in 17 Countries Blighted by War
by Latin American Herald Tribune

ROME – Hell on Earth is how two United Nations agencies described on Friday the repercussions of armed conflicts on some 56 million people across the world.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) presented a report to the UN Security Council expressing their concern over the available food supplies to 17 countries.

“A staggering 89 percent of all Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon require urgent food,” the report said.

The statement said conflicts had “driven millions of people into severe food insecurity and are was hindering global efforts to eradicate malnutrition.”

War had pushed more than 56 million into either “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity, the report said.

The worsening situation in Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Burundi and the Lake Chad basin were of particular concern, according to the report.

About half of Yemen’s population, 14 million people, were affected.

In the case of Syria there were 8.7 million people (37 percent of its population prior to the war) in need of urgent food assistance.

In South Sudan, the number was 4.8 million (40 percent of the population).

The UN showed particular concern with these last two countries as 2016 “marks a deteriorating trend due to the protracted nature of the conflicts.”

It warned that Boko Haram jihadist group violence had tripled the number of displaced people around the Lake Chad basin stretching through Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Countries that were recovering from protracted civil wars such as Colombia were still suffering elevated degrees of food insecurity.

High overall percentages of the population of Burundi (23 percent), Haiti (19 percent) or the Central African Republic (50 percent) required food aid.

Other countries that have also seen their food security compromised are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Both the FAO and the WFP said armed conflict was one of the main causes behind famine as it destroys crops, cattle and agricultural infrastructure.

It also blocks markets and creates refugees, damages human resources, contributes to the spread of diseases and obstructs aid.

“Approximately half of the global poor now live in states characterized by conflict and violence,” the report said.

Zika virus outbreak 2016: 1.65 million childbearing women could become infected by Zika virus
by Dr. Victor Marchione

An estimated 1.65 million childbearing women could become infected with Zika virus, according to the latest research. The researchers in the U.S. and the U.K. found that across Latin America and the Caribbean over 90 million infections could result from the initial stages of the spread of Zika.

The estimates are based on the sum of thousands of localized projections of infected people within every five by five kilometer grid. The number of 1.65 million represents the upper limit estimate for the first wave of the epidemic.

Professor Andrew Tatem, a geographer and researcher, said, “It is difficult to accurately predict how many childbearing women may be at risk from Zika because a large proportion of cases show no symptoms. This largely invalidates methods based on case data and presents a formidable challenge for scientists trying to understand the likely impact of the disease on populations.”

The researchers took into account disease patterns in similar epidemics along with factors that affect the transmission of the virus, climate conditions, and virus incubation periods.

Professor Tatem concluded, “These projections are an important early contribution to global efforts to understand the scale of the Zika epidemic, and provide information about its possible magnitude to help allow for better planning for surveillance and outbreak response, both internationally and locally.”

Recommendations for pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that pregnant women, or women looking to conceive, travel to countries with known Zika virus transmission. If a woman does require traveling to these areas, she must take the appropriate safety precautions to reduce her risk of mosquito bites.

This includes using repellents, wearing long sleeves and long pants, avoiding mosquito-breeding areas such as still water, and following any other local recommendations.

Additionally, a woman should avoid sexual intercourse for some time after visiting these countries, or if her partner has visited these countries. Using protection during sex is also crucial for averting possible Zika infection.

If a pregnant woman does begin to experience symptoms related to Zika virus, she should go see her doctor and get tested immediately.

Because there is no cure or treatment for Zika, the best line of defense is prevention of mosquito bites – for both men and women.

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