natural disasters
March 8, 2019

President Trump on Friday will head to Alabama, where a powerful tornado killed 23 people earlier this week. Seven of the victims, in Lee County, were from the same family.

"It's been a tragic situation," Trump said at the White House. "But a lot of good work is being done." The tornado, with winds estimated at up to 170 mph, tore through the rural countryside for nearly a mile on Sunday. Many residents in the area had only about 8 minutes of warning before it struck.

"FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes," Trump tweeted Monday. After his visit with victims' relatives, Trump is heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for a weekend fundraiser. Peter Weber

August 18, 2018

Unusually catastrophic monsoon rains continued Saturday in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where more than 300,000 people have now evacuated their homes to escape rising floodwaters. Another 10,000 are thought to be trapped on their roofs awaiting rescue.

Severe flooding has lasted for more than a week, and at least 324 people have died in connection to the floods. More rain is expected at least through Monday, hindering already fraught rescue efforts. Nevertheless, 82,000 rescues were completed on Friday alone.

"It's a four-story house, but water started pouring in fast until it reached the second floor and stayed that way for two days," said one woman named Shrinni, who lives with her family in a town called Ranni. "My relatives shifted to the top floor with all the stuff they immediately needed. An airlift came, but as my 85-year-old grandmother had never taken a flight in her life and she was afraid to go. So the whole family stayed back. On Friday, rescuers came with motor boats and shifted them to a safe place." Bonnie Kristian

June 1, 2018

Hawaiian authorities have ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents of some neighborhoods threatened by ongoing and still-expanding lava flows from the Kilauea volcano, and those who refuse to evacuate by noon local time on Friday will be subject to arrest. After the deadline, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency will not conduct rescue missions for those in evacuation areas.

The volcano has been active for nearly a month, and "vigorous lava eruptions" continue daily. The 24 fissures have shot "persistent fountains" of lava as high as 260 feet in the air, and the lava has blanketed an area of five and half square miles and counting. However, geologists estimate a mere 2 percent of the molten lava in the Kilauea crater has moved downhill so far. Bonnie Kristian

May 13, 2018

The Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii remained active over the weekend, opening a 16th fissure about a mile away from most of its lava flow activity in the Leilani Estates neighborhood. About 2,000 people have now been evacuated and more than two dozen homes destroyed by encroaching lava, which in some places has piled as high as a four-story building.

The ongoing activity has geologists concerned about possible volcanic or seismic activity affecting other locations in the Ring of Fire, like the United States' Pacific coast, but experts say another eruption is not imminent. Bonnie Kristian

May 12, 2018

President Trump on Friday declared a major disaster in Hawaii as continued lava flow from the Big Island's Kilauea volcano since May 3 has destroyed 36 structures, covered 117 acres, and forced the evacuation of 1,700 people.

Some 15 volcanic vents have opened up in and near the Leilani Estates neighborhood, a subdivision close to the volcano, and "additional outbreaks of lava are likely," said the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. More "energetic ash emissions" and "ballistic projectiles" of various sizes of rocks are expected as well.

"Scientists said that as the surface of the lava pool at the volcano's summit recedes, it could cause rocks from the crater to fall into the opening where the lava levels have dropped," reports The New York Times. "The hot rocks would then interact with groundwater, causing steam pressure to build up and eventually releasing a larger explosion at the summit." Boulders weighing up to 12 tons could be tossed up to half a mile from the volcano's summit. Bonnie Kristian

May 5, 2018

Thursday's eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii was followed by a 6.9-magnitude earthquake in the area Friday, with at least six active fissures in affected areas on the Big Island's eastern tip. Three buildings, including one home, have been destroyed so far, and about 1,800 people have been evacuated from neighborhoods near the volcano. About 14,000 people lost power, and emissions of dangerous, sulfurous gas made it unsafe for utility employees to work in some areas.

Friday's quake was the largest on the island since 1975, and tremors continued Saturday. "There are still plumes going out. There's a couple cracks that's close by that still have steam coming out," said Big Island resident Ikaika Marzo. "There's a lot of glow, a lot of fires." Bonnie Kristian

April 17, 2016

At least 262 people died after Ecuador was hit Saturday with its strongest earthquake since 1979, The Associated Press reports. Thousands more were injured. President Rafael Correa declared a national state of emergency.

The magnitude-7.8 quake struck near fishing ports and tourist beaches 105 miles northwest of Quito, the nation's capital. Ecuador's earthquake was six times as strong as the more powerful of the two that shook Japan a day earlier, a geosciences professor told AP.

This post has been updated throughout. Julie Kliegman

August 22, 2015

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Washington on Friday, allotting federal disaster relief funds for the wildfires burning across rural areas of the state. The declaration also allows for federal support on the ground in providing food, debris removal, and grief counseling. Washington also called in the National Guard.

The fires, which killed three firefighters Wednesday, have burned nearly 500,000 acres. Evacuation orders are in place in at least six towns. The Seattle Times reports it's the worst fire season in state history. Julie Kliegman

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