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Alaska Earthquake: Tsunami Warning Prompts Evacuations As Magnitude 8.0 Earthquake Strikes Aleutian Islands
A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the Aleutian Islands of Alaska Monday, prompting tsunami warnings and evacuations for the islands near the epicenter. The warning was later downgraded to an advisory as experts ruled out the potential of a destructive tsunami for other Pacific coastlines.
Locator map of Monday's earthquake in Alaska.
The earthquake struck at 11:53 a.m. local time (4:53 p.m. Eastern time) near Little Sitkin Island in the far western part of the Aleutian Island chain, just west of the International Date Line.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the main jolt was followed by aftershocks measuring magnitude 6.0 and 5.8, occurring 18 and 37 minutes after the mainshock, respectively. Smaller aftershocks of 4.8 and 5.1 followed within 90 minutes of the mainshock.
The National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, issued a tsunami warning for a portion of the Aleutians stretching from Nikolski to Attu. "Widespread dangerous coastal flooding accompanied by powerful currents are possible and may continue for hours after tsunami arrival," the NTWC bulletin said.
Residents of Adak, Alaska, evacuated the town site and gathered on a nearby hill.
"We're seeing water leave our bay, so we do have everybody up on the Bering Hill area, where our primary evacuation center is at," City Manager Layton Lockett told The Associated Press by telephone as he gathered some last paperwork before heading out himself to join about 300 residents at the center.
The agency downgraded the bulletin to a less-serious tsunami advisory at 1:44 p.m. local time, just under two hours after the quake.
The first tsunami measurement came from Amchitka, Alaska, about 25 miles from the quake's epicenter. A tsunami of 0.6 foot (about 7 inches) was recorded at 12:36 p.m. local time. The NTWC said that the depth of the earthquake, some 71 miles below the earth's surface, would mitigate the extent of the tsunami. Tsunami heights are expected to be less than 1 foot across the Aleutians, according to the NTWC bulletin downgrading the earlier warning.
TV: “The largest disease outbreak that we know of ever in the oceans” now hitting West Coast — Potential for “global extinction” — “Affects over 20 species… causing catastrophic mortality” — Expert: One of history’s largest wildlife
Macleans, June 13, 2014: From Alaska to Mexico—and all along the B.C. coast—an iconic animal is disappearing. For reasons that remain baffling to scientists, starfish are dying by the millions, in the grips of a mysterious wasting disease that dissolves their bodies into goo. “I’d do beach walks along a 50-m stretch of shoreline, and count 500 or 1,000 of them,” says Chris Harley, a marine ecologist at the University of British Columbia who’s been monitoring sea stars (as scientists call them) for nearly two decades [...] Revisiting one of these sites recently, he found a single sea star. “This is one of the largest wildlife die-offs that we know of,” [Seattle Aquarium veterinarian Lesanna Lahner] says. “It’s a signal in the ecosystem that something’s not right.”
Eugene Weekly, June 12, 2014: “The way the rate has accelerated, I don’t think most sea stars along the Oregon coast are long for this world,” says Bruce Menge, a marine ecologist with Oregon State University.
KUOW News, June 17, 2014: “It’s a lot worse than it was last week,” says [Drew] Harvell, a marine epidemiologist at Cornell University. “It’s the largest mortality event for marine diseases we’ve seen,” Harvell said. “It affects over twenty species on our coast and it’s been causing catastrophic mortality.” From what Harvell and her team see as they survey beaches [of Washington's San Juan archipelago], there’s not much time for these starfish “My expectation is that within the next month all of the stars will die.” The team checked this rocky patch last week and found 10 percent of the stars showed signs of the wasting syndrome. Today they estimate that number has increased to more than 40 percent. Harvell said, “This area has some of the highest biodiversity of sea stars in the world. We’re not just losing one keystone species, we’re losing a whole guild of stars.” And the stars here are what’s called an endemic species, meaning they only live on this shoreline and nowhere else on the planet, she explained. If sea stars are wiped out along these shores, there’s a potential for not just local, but global extinction.
EarthFix (Oregon Public Broadcasting, KCTS9, KUOW), June 17, 2014 — Drew Harvell, Cornell University: “This is the largest disease outbreak that we know of ever in the oceans. I’m expecting that in the next two weeks we will lose virtually all the stars at this site [in Washington] To lose all of them at once, we don’t even know what’s going to happen.”
Iran warns against military intervention in Iraq - iran takes over iraqi armed forces!!! (yahoo news)
Tehran (AFP) - Iran warned on Sunday that "any foreign military intervention in Iraq" would only complicate the crisis, after the United States said it was deploying a warship in the Gulf.
"Iraq has the capacity and necessary preparations for the fight against terrorism and extremism," foreign ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham was Sunday quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
"Any action that complicates the situation in Iraq is not in the interests of the country nor of the region," Afkham said, adding: "The people and government of Iraq will be able to neutralise this conspiracy."
Iraq is battling an offensive by Sunni militants who have advanced to within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of Baghdad's city limits after seizing a swathe of the country's north.
Responding to the crisis, the Pentagon said on Saturday the United States had ordered an aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, into the Gulf.
Afkham's comments come a day after President Hassan Rouhani said he believed the Iraqis have the capacity to "repel terrorism" and that Iran had not been asked for help by its neighbour.
But in surprise comments, he added that Iran may consider cooperating with its arch-foe the United States to fight the Sunni extremist militants in Iraq.
"If we see that the United States takes action against terrorist groups in Iraq, then one can think about it," he said, despite the lack of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington for more than three decades.
"We have said that all countries must unite in combating terrorism. But right now regarding Iraq... we have not seen the Americans taking a decision," Rouhani added.
However, National Supreme Security Council chief Ali Shamkhani dismissed any US-Iran cooperation over Iraq.
"That is part of a psychological war, and is totally unreal," Shamkhani said, denouncing "information published in the West's media".
"As we have already said, if there is an official Iraqi request we will be ready to study it under the framework of international rules, and this concerns no other country," added Shamkhani, a Rouhani appointee.
The deployment of the US aircraft carrier group was ordered by Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and comes amid calls for air strikes to blunt the insurgents' lightning offensive that caught Iraq's security forces on the hop, with many soldiers throwing away their uniforms and fleeing.
However, Iraqi troops launched a counter-offensive on Saturday, recapturing two towns north of Baghdad, while thousands of volunteers answered a call to arms from top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Four Russian strategic bombers triggered U.S. air defense systems while conducting practice bombing runs near Alaska this week, with two of the Tu-95 Bear H aircraft coming within 50 miles of the California coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) confirmed Wednesday.
“The last time we saw anything similar was two years ago on the Fourth of July,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Norad spokesman, told the Free Beacon.
Davis said the latest Bear H incursions began Monday around 4:30 p.m. Pacific time when radar detected the four turbo-prop powered bombers approaching the U.S. air defense zone near the far western Aleutian Islands.
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were scrambled and intercepted the bombers over the Aleutians.
After tracking the bombers as they flew eastward, two of the four Bears turned around and headed west toward the Russian Far East. The bombers are believed to be based at the Russian strategic base near Anadyr, Russia.
The remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and around 9:30 pm entered the U.S. northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California.
Two U.S. F-15 jets were deployed and intercepted the bombers as they eventually flew within 50 miles of the coast before turning around and heading west.
A defense official said the four bombers also were supported by two IL-78 aerial refueling tankers that were used for mid-air refueling during the operation this week.
The Tu-95 is a long-range strike aircraft capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles. Other versions are equipped with intelligence-gathering sensors and electronic warfare gear. It has a range of around 9,400 miles without refueling.
Davis said the aircraft “acted professionally” and the bombers appeared to be conducting a training mission.
“They typically do long range aviation training in the summer and it is not unusual for them to be more active during this time,” he said. “We assess this was part of training. And they did not enter territorial airspace.”
The bomber incursion is the latest Russian nuclear saber-rattling amid stepped up tensions over Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the Russian flights “intentional provocations.”
“Putin is doing this specifically to try to taunt the U.S. and exercise, at least in the reported world, some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing kind of nonsense,” Conaway said in an interview. “Truth of the matter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals.”
“It’s a provocation and it’s unnecessary. But it fits in with [Putin’s] macho kind of saber-rattling,” he said, adding that he expects Russia will carry out more of these kinds of incidents in the future.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaska commander for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said he does not remember a case of Russian strategic bombers coming that close to the U.S. coast.
“Again we see the Obama administration through their covert—but overt to Mr. Putin—unilateral disarmament, inviting adventurism by the Russians,” McInerney said in an email.
“At the height of the Cold War I do not remember them getting this close. Mr. Putin had to approve this mission and he is just showing his personal contempt for President Obama right after meeting him in Normandy less than a week ago,” McInerney said.
McInerney said no American president has been treated with such disrespect in U.S. history.
“A sad day indeed and at the same time Mosul and Tikrit [Iraq] fall to radical Islamists after the Obama administration’s failed Iraq policy,” he added. “He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again.”
The Alaska-California bombers flight also came a month after a Russian Su-27 interceptor jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.
In that incident on April 23, the Su-27 jet flew close to the RC-135, turned to reveal its air-to-air missiles to the crew, and then flew dangerously close to within 100 feet of the cockpit in a maneuver military officials called reckless.
Davis said in the past 10 years, 50 Bear H bombers were intercepted near U.S. air defense zone, although he acknowledged that Monday’s flight near California was unusual.
In April, a telephone conversation between two Russian ambassadors was posted on YouTube and appeared to show the diplomats joking about the Ukraine crisis and discussing the possible incursions in the United States and Eastern Europe.
The leaked conversation between Igor Nilokaevich Chubarov and Sergey Viktorovich Bakharev, Russian ambassadors to the African nations Eritrea and Zimbabwe and Malawi, respectively, includes references to post-Crimea Russian imperialism to include Eastern Europe and “Californialand” and “Miamiland.”
Russian Bear H flights elsewhere have increased in recent years.
In February 2013, two of the bombers were intercepted as they circled the U.S. Pacific island of Guam, in a rare long-range incursion.
Two Bear Hs also were intercepted near Alaska on April 28, 2013.
A Russian Bear H incursion in Asia took place in in July 2013 when two Tu-95s were intercepted by Japanese and South Korean jets near the Korean peninsula and Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island.
The July 4, 2012 bomber flights near the West Coast were the first time since the Cold War that Russian jets has traveled so close to the U.S. coastline.
That action followed an earlier intrusion by Tu-95s near Alaska that were part of large-scale strategic nuclear exercises by the Russians aimed at practicing strikes on enemy air defenses.
Russia has stepped up provocative nuclear war games in recent years as part of propaganda efforts to display Moscow’s dislike of U.S. missile defenses in Europe.