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End Time News – Updated 1 Feb 2017 - 5 stories
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earthquake headlines             6.0 quakes            7.0 quakes            quakes in diverse places          quake map

6.9-magnitude earthquake strikes off Japan
by Emanuella Grinberg and Ben Westcott, CNN

(CNN)A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan's Honshu island on Tuesday, triggering tsunami waves and bringing back traumatic memories for locals of the devastating 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Residents in Fukushima Prefecture braced for the worst after a tsunami warning was issued early Tuesday morning -- along the same stretch of coast devastated by enormous waves five years ago.

In 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake -- one of the worst ever to hit Japan -- killed more than 20,000 people and caused tsunamis of up to 12 meters (40 feet) which swamped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering a nuclear meltdown.

Fukushima resident: We live in fear

Tuesday's quake struck close to the epicenter of the 2011 quake, just 37 kilometers (23 miles) east-southeast of Namie at a depth of 11.4 kilometers (7 miles).

The quake triggered a tsunami warning in Japan's Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, causing the government to urge thousands to seek higher ground amid warnings waves could be up to 3 meters high (10 feet).

Speaking to CNN, resident from Fukushima prefecture said they immediately feared the worst when they felt Tuesday's earthquake.

"I came to my company first to check it is still standing and products are all intact, then I went back home to evacuate," 42-year-old Kazunari Ogawara said.

"My company was washed away by the 2011 tsunami, I was scared to think that that was going to happen again and we'd have to start from scratch."

75-year-old Mitsuhiro Kusaka, still living in temporary housing after the 2011 disaster, said she thought she wouldn't survive this time.

"I cannot describe in words how terrible to live in fear ... I am so scared to go home. We might have huge quakes anytime again," she told CNN.

In Ibaraki Prefecture one woman said she didn't feel she could drop her guard after the earthquake and was still praying for minimal damage.

Hours later, the warnings were dropped. Three people were injured, police told CNN, while more than 1,900 homes briefly lost power.

Cooling system briefly down at nuclear plant

One of the prime concerns on Tuesday was the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 2011.

An exclusion zone still exists around the site where radiation levels are considered too toxic for humans.

At its neighboring sister plant, Fukushima Daini, a cooling pump system which had been keeping the spent nuclear pool at safe temperatures stopped briefly after Tuesday's quake, a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. (TEPCO) told CNN.

No abnormalities or change in radiation levels were reported, and operations have resumed.

USGS geophysicist Jessica Turner told CNN the earthquake had been much smaller than the disaster five years ago.

"It is much smaller in magnitude and energy release than the 9.0-magnitude that occurred in March of 2011 ... we can expect to see aftershocks for the next several days (but) it's hard to predict," she said.

Eight aftershocks of at least magnitude 5.4 were recorded within five hours of the initial quake.

The legacy of Fukushima

The 2011 quake, just slightly north of Tuesday's temblor, was so severe it moved Japan's coast 8 feet and shifted the Earth's axis, ranking among the costliest natural disasters on record.

More than 200,000 residents were evacuated from the surrounding area in 2011 and of those tens of thousands still live in temporary housing, unable to return home.

TEPCO has estimated that the cleanup from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima could take 40 years.

University of Sydney Disaster Risk Management Expert Dale Dominey-Howes told CNN Tuesday's earthquake would be devastating for the mental health of survivors still recovering from the 2011 event.

"The simple reality is that the survivors from 2011 haven't gone back to normal, they're basically living as displaced people in camps in various locations around central Japan," he said.

"So today's earthquake and tsunami basically catapults people back into the moments of the 2011 disaster, all that emotion and pain ... Survivors will experience the trauma all over again."

2011 quake '1,000 time more powerful'

Earthquakes are common in Japan. The most recent was a 6.2 magnitude in late October near Kurayoshi, a city to the west of Osaka, which caused a handful of injuries.

Speaking to CNN, Geoscience Australia Senior Duty Seismologist Hugh Glanville said while the 2011 earthquake had only been two degrees of magnitude higher than Tuesday's, a quake's impact increased logarithmically for every point of magnitude.

"Given the one in 2011 was magnitude 9.0, it was about 1,000 times more powerful than the energy release of this earthquake. For each (degree of) magnitude you go up, it is 32 times the energy of the previous one," he said.

Glanville said it was possible some aftershocks could be stronger than the original earthquake, possibly about magnitude 7.0.

CNN's Radina Gigova, Junko Ogura, Joe Sterling and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.

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World Remains Unprepared for Future Infectious Disease Outbreaks
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

The world is still grossly underprepared for another infectious disease outbreak, and experts warn we will not be ready for the next outbreak unless significant changes are made.

In an analysis published in The BMJ, a team of international experts examined reports on the recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. The investigators found that a majority of the 11,000 deaths directly attributed to Ebola could have been prevented through better preparedness, and a faster, more coordinated response.

Furthermore, it could have prevented the broader economic, social, and health crises that arose as a result.

The investigators synthesized 7 major post-Ebola reports, laid out key issues, and highlighted recommendations. They also assessed the progress-to-date, and identified the biggest gaps between recommendations and action in each area of reform.

Although the reports differed in scope and emphasis, the investigators were able to identify key issues and recommendations for action, broken into 3 critical areas.

The critical areas were strengthening compliance with the International Health Regulations; improving outbreak-related research and knowledge sharing; and reforming the World Health Organization (WHO) and the broader humanitarian response system.

Significant efforts have been made that began to address these issues; however, progress has been mixed, with many crucial issues that are still not addressed, according to the authors. Some unaddressed issues include inadequate investments in country capacity building, which is also difficult to track; arrangements for fair and timely sharing of patient samples remains weak; and reform efforts at WHO had focused on operational issues, while neglecting to address deeper institutional shortcomings.

“We found remarkable consensus on what went wrong with the Ebola response and what we need to do to address the deficiencies,” the authors wrote. “Yet not nearly enough has been done. “Ebola, and more recently Zika and yellow fever, have demonstrated that we do not yet have a reliable or robust global system for preventing, detecting, and responding to disease outbreaks.”

The authors stressed that the global community needs to work to mobilize greater resources, and also put monitoring and accountability mechanisms in place to be better prepared for the next pandemic.

Outbreaks of infectious diseases are likely to become more frequent in the coming decades and “we will not be ready for the next outbreak without deeper and more comprehensive change,” the authors concluded.


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Wars and Rumors of Wars

950,000 children affected by conflict in eastern Ukraine
Mirage News

The armed conflict, which rages in eastern Ukraine for almost three years, has taken its toll on some 950,000 children, an official from the presidential administration said on Friday.

“Up to date, around one in eight of Ukrainian children have been affected by the conflict in the east,” Mykola Kuleba, the President’s commissioner for children’s rights, told reporters.

The months of violence have endangered the lives of some 100,000 children living near the frontline of fighting and forced about 250,000 others to flee their homes, Kuleba said.

He added that some 600,000 children are still residing in the conflict-torn territories, which are controlled by independence-seeking insurgents.

According to the government’s estimates, at least 68 Ukrainian children were killed in the crossfire between government troops and rebels, while 186 others were wounded since April 2014.

Besides, 80 children were on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, leaving no survivors.



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Wars and Rumors of Wars

Almost 7,000 Iraqi Civilians Killed in Armed Conflict in 2016 - UN

According to United Nations, almost 7,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of terrorism and armed conflict in the country throughout 2016.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Almost 7,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of terrorism and armed conflict in the country throughout 2016, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The figure omits casualties in the Anbar province for May, July, August and December as the Anbar Health Department did not provide the relevant data.

The last month of 2016 saw the least number of civilian casualties except June, with 385 people killed, excluding police casualties. Almost 1,000 died in November and over 1,000 in October.

The number of those injured came to 1,060 in December.

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Jan Kubis noted in the UNAMI statement that the December casualty figure was low, but stressed that terrorist attacks increased toward the end of the month. Kubis also noted Monday's deadly attacks in Baghdad, which the Islamic State (IS, or Daesh in Arabic) claimed responsibility for.

Monday's suicide bombing at a local market in Baghdad's Shiite-dominated Sadr City killed at least 35 people and wounded 60, while a car bomb in the center of the city killed and wounded 7 people, and an explosion near Jawadir hospital killed 11 people.

Iraq has been gripped by violence since mid-2014, when the IS took over vast swathes of the country after invading from neighboring war-torn Syria. The terrorist group, which is outlawed in many countries, including Russia, took over Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul as well as most of the Anbar province.

The Iraqi operation to liberate Mosul has been ongoing since October 17. The offensive is led by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi soldiers backed by the US-led anti-terror coalition.


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Millions of people face food shortages in the the Horn of Africa
Relief Web

FAO calls for immediate response to prevent catastrophe due to severe drought

29 January 2017, Addis Ababa - With as little as one-quarter of expected rainfall received, widespread drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have intensified since the failure of the October-December rains, FAO said today.

FAO estimates that over 17 million people are currently in crisis and emergency food insecurity levels in member-countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, which are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Areas of greatest concern cover much of Somalia, north-east and coastal Kenya, south-east of Ethiopia as well as the Afar region still to recover from El Nino induced drought of 2015/16; and South Sudan and Darfur region of Sudan due to the protracted insecurity.

Currently, close to 12 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in need of food assistance, as families face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. A pre-famine alert has been issued for Somalia and an immediate and at scale humanitarian response is highly required.

Acute food shortage and malnutrition also remains to be a major concern in many parts of South Sudan, Sudan (west Darfur) and Uganda's Karamoja region.

FAO warns that if response is not immediate and sufficient, the risks are massive and the costs high.

"The magnitude of the situation calls for scaled up action and coordination at national and regional levels. This is, above all, a livelihoods and humanitarian emergency - and the time to act is now", said FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo. "We cannot wait for a disaster like the famine in 2011".

Semedo was speaking on behalf of the FAO Director-General at a High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the sidelines of the 28th AU Summit (Addis-Ababa).

"The drought situation in the Region is extremely worrying, primarily in almost all of Somalia but also across Southern and South-eastern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. As a consequence, with the next rains at least eight weeks away and the next main harvest not until July, millions are at risk of food insecurity across the region", Semedo said.

For his part Guterres said: "We must express total solidarity with the people of Ethiopia on the looming drought, as a matter of justice." The UN Secretary-General called for a stronger commitment to work together.

Drought impacts livelihoods

Repeated episodes of drought have led to consecutive failed harvests, disease outbreaks, deteriorating water and pasture conditions and animal deaths.

"Insecurity and economic shocks affect the most vulnerable people", warned Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa. "The situation is rapidly deteriorating and the number of people in need of livelihood and humanitarian emergency assistance is likely to increase as the dry and lean season continue with significant negative impact on livelihoods and household assets as well as on the food security and nutrition of affected rural communities", he added.

In 2016, refugees and asylum seekers increased by over 0.5 million to 3 million compared to 2015.

Strengthening FAO's efforts to drought response

"FAO's partnership to build resilience to shocks and crises in the Horn of Africa is critical and will increase," assured Tijani.

Recently, FAO and IGAD agreed on some key steps to enhance collaboration in mitigating the severe drought currently affecting the countries in the Horn of Africa region and strengthening food security and resilience analysis.

The two organizations emphasized the importance of enhancing the role of the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) and the Resilience Analysis Unit to enhance the effectiveness of the Early warning-Early action and resilience investments.

FAO calls for joint priorities to increase and include enhanced coordination, increased and systematic engagement of member States and effective response to member States' identified needs, as well as strengthened resource mobilization efforts.


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