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Updated 1 Jan 2017 - 4 stories|
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Magnitude 7.7 earthquake hits off
by Sima Shelbayah, CNN
(CNN)A magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurred off the coast of southern
Chile Sunday, 40 km (about 25 miles) southwest of Puerto Quellon,
according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had issued a tsunami threat
message for parts of the Pacific Ocean close to the earthquake; by
10:30 a.m. ET the center said the threat had passed.
A "state of precaution" that had been issued for the region of Los
Lagos has been lifted, according to the Chilean Navy Hydrographic
and Oceanographic Service.
And Chile's Ministry of the Interior and Public Security canceled
the tsunami evacuation for the beach areas near the quake zone.
Shortly after the quake hit, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet
posted a tweet expressing support to the people of her country.
"Much strength and mood to the compatriots affected by the
earthquake in Chile and other areas of the south! Emergency
protocols are already operating," Bachelet tweeted.
Chile sits on an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the
Pacific Ocean known as the "Ring of Fire."
The area experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Since 1973, Chile has had more than a dozen quakes of magnitude 7.0
In February 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 700
people and affected more than 2 million others, according to Chilean
That quake struck off the Pacific coast about 60 miles northwest of
Chillan, Chile, at a depth of nearly 22 miles, the USGS said.
The city of Concepcion, Chile, and the Maule and Bio Bio regions
were devastated, with buildings in ruins and roads left impassable.
In the quake's immediate aftermath, more than 1.5 million people
were without power in and around Santiago.
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Deadly disease outbreak in
Wisconsin baffles public health officials
by Keren Landman
A mysterious cluster of deadly bloodstream infections in Wisconsin
has set state and federal disease detectives scrambling to
understand why a common and generally harmless microbe is suddenly
wreaking such havoc.
The outbreak has killed 15 people and sickened 33 others in a
cluster of counties surrounding Milwaukee.
Public health authorities know what’s causing the illnesses: a
species of bacteria named Elizabethkingia anophelis.
But they don’t know how it’s infecting so many people, or why it’s
proving so deadly. The microbe can resist common first-line
antibiotic treatments, though it’s not a true “superbug” as it is
susceptible to other medicines.
While most of the patients in Wisconsin are elderly, and all have a
history of serious illness, many have not had any recent contact
with hospitals, suggesting they are becoming infected in the
community, which is unheard of for this type of bacteria. The
outbreak started last November and the case count continues to grow,
with four new cases identified last week. Symptoms include fever,
chills, and shortness of breath.
State and federal investigators are testing tap water, skin care
products, and other products patients may have ingested or come in
contact with as a possible source of contamination. The vast
majority of specimens share a matching genetic fingerprint,
indicating a common source for the outbreak.
“The fact that we don’t know what it is yet is tremendously
frustrating,” said Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director of the division
of healthcare quality promotion at the Centers for Disease Control
Most states see fewer than a dozen cases of Elizabethkingia
infection each year, Bell said. It is highly unusual for nearly 50
cases to be identified in such a small geographic area.
The outbreak poses a particular challenge to investigators because
scientists know little about Elizabethkingia, which is named for the
CDC scientist who discovered the species.
The organisms are known to be ubiquitous in soil and in the guts of
Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, and they thrive in moist biofilms —
clumps of bacteria and sticky substances that adhere to
environmental surfaces and medical devices. Even strong
disinfectants, like hydrogen peroxide, don’t wipe them out.
But Elizabethkingia species have only recently been identified as a
cause of human disease, with the first published description of an
outbreak reported in 2010.
Since then, a handful of other clusters have been described, all in
hospital intensive care units and neonatal wards. In a recent
outbreak in a British hospital, for instance, the infections were
traced to contaminated taps in sinks near patient beds.
The cluster of cases in Wisconsin is the first reported outbreak of
this particular species of Elizabethkingia bacteria. State health
officials report that most victims are older than 65.
Milwaukee was the site of another cluster of mysterious fatalities
back in 1993, when 69 residents died and tens of thousands fell ill
with gastrointestinal symptoms. The outbreak was ultimately traced
to an intestinal parasite, Cryptosporidium, that contaminated the
city’s water supply.
Milwaukee has since made improvements to its water processing
plants, including changes to filtration systems and disinfection
procedures. State and federal officials say it’s unlikely that the
current outbreak comes from contaminated tap or groundwater, but
neither has been ruled out.
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Wars and Rumors of Wars
115,000 people displaced, 50,000 children affected by Mosul military
28 December 2016 – Since operations began to retake the Iraqi city
of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) two
months ago, some 114,042 people have been displaced and as many as
one million are out of reach of humanitarian assistance.
According to the latest report from the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the ongoing conflict
has rendered it is impossible to state a definitive estimate on the
number of people who are still living in ISIL-controlled areas.
However, the humanitarian community is concerned that conditions for
these communities are deteriorating, as basic goods have not been
replaced in western parts of the city since the city’s supply routes
were closed last month.
Of particular concern is the safety and security of children, as
more than 50,000 have been affected due to the Mosul military
operation and surrounding conflict. Hamida Lasseko, Deputy
Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Iraq, told UN
News that the agency is working with the Iraqi Government to provide
basic services, psychosocial support, and education to children.
“This is going to be our main area of focus – to advocate for the
education of children. This will also help to keep the children
safe: they will be protected from being recruited, affected from the
armed conflict, and they will also be able to access their basic
rights,” she said.
“We continue to ask all those who are involved in the conflict to
leave children to grow as children so that they have a normal life,”
Ms. Lasseko said, emphasizing that “they should stop using children
for the benefit of the war.”
For those who are now living at camps, humanitarian assistance
includes basic services such as clean drinking water, latrines,
medical assistance. OCHA emphasized that providing new plots to
accommodate people who have recently fled is an urgent priority:
just last week, an additional 10,170 people were displaced.
However, security incidents have threatened aid operations in
eastern Mosul. On 22 December, three suicide car bombs exploded in
Gogchali, an area on the eastern outskirts of the city adjacent to
the main access route. These explosions were in addition to mortar
fire that killed aid workers and beneficiaries. just a few days
earlier, as well as a significant uptick in trauma injuries over the
Meanwhile, flooding due to ongoing rains has threatened water
safety, and the arrival of winter brings dropping temperatures and
harsher conditions. UN agencies and stakeholders are working to
ensure that civilians have adequate protection from the cold, and
one NGO is building a field hospital to shorten ambulance journeys
and reduce pressure on Erbil hospitals.
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50,000 children face death by
starvation in northern Nigeria
by Con Coughlin
An estimated 50,000 children are facing death by starvation in
northern Nigeria this summer as a result of the Nigerian
government’s faltering campaign to defeat Boko Haram Islamist
militants, aid agencies are warning.
Aid experts say the humanitarian crisis caused by the seven-year
conflict between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram militants has
left an estimated 500,000 people homeless in northern Nigeria, the
majority of whom are in urgent need of food, shelter and medical
Of these, 244,000 are children, and the French charity Doctors
Without Borders, which has set up a network of emergency camps in
the region, warns that one in five will die in the coming weeks if
they do not receive urgent treatment and food supplies.
Western aid officials have also raised concerns about the Nigerian
government’s handling of the crisis, with accusations that President
Muhammadu Buhari, the country’s Muslim president, is not doing
enough to confront the threat posed by Boko Haram’s Islamist
Britain’s Department for International Development contributes an
estimated £870 million to Nigeria to support the government’s
ability to fight Boko Haram, which has been responsible for a number
of terrorist outrages, including the kidnapping of hundreds of
But Western officials are worried that Mr Buhari is exploiting some
of the aid to persecute Christian political rivals instead of
tackling Islamist militants.
Mr Buhari was involved in an embarrassing diplomatic row with
Downing Street earlier this year after David Cameron was overheard
remarking to the Queen that Nigeria was one “of the most corrupt
countries in the world” ahead of an anti-corruption summit in
But while Mr Buhari denied his government was involved in
corruption, aid officials are becoming increasingly concerned about
his handling of the campaign against Boko Haram, which could now
create Nigeria’s worst humanitarian disaster since the Biafra
conflict in the 1960s.
The latest refugee crisis is centred on Borno state is north-eastern
Nigeria, and aid officials say around 244,000 children are suffering
from acute malnutrition. “Some 134 children on average will die
every day from causes linked to acute malnutrition,” said a
spokesman for the children’s charity Unicef.
Last month aid workers reported that more than 1,200 people had died
from starvation and illness at one refugee camp in northeast Nigeria
- of these 480 were children.
Yesterday (Friday) the UN said it was suspending aid to dangerous
areas of Borno state after Boko Haram ambushed a humanitarian convoy
But while Western governments are keen for Nigeria to continue the
military campaign against Boko Haram, which claims to have close
links with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), there are
growing concerns that Mr Buhari’s determination to crush his
political opponents is diverting vital resources away from the
In recent months Mr Buhari, a former military dictator, has
intensified his efforts to give key government appointments to
Muslim political allies at the expense of Christian officials. This
has resulted in increased tensions between the government and
southern Nigeria, which is predominantly Christian, where in May the
military killed 15 people during a peaceful Biafran protest.
But while Mr Buhari has been concentrating his efforts on tackling
political unrest in southern Nigeria, U.S. military officials
involved in the campaign against Boko Haram report there has been a
sharp increase in terrorist attacks carried out by the group in
“One of the reasons we have this humanitarian crisis in northern
Nigeria is that Mr Buhari is diverting vital resources away from the
campaign to pursue his own political agenda,” explained a senior
Western official. “The Nigerian government, which is receiving
significant amounts of foreign aid, needs to understand that its
main priority is to deal with Boko Haram, and also to make sure
Nigeria does not suffer the worst humanitarian disaster in its
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