Tropical Cyclone Gita hit Tonga hard Monday night and into Tuesday morning, bringing down power lines, destroying buildings and crops, and causing injuries across the kingdom.
The winds were stronger than predicted, reaching 144 mph, and they ripped the roof off of the Tonga meteorological office, taking the national broadcaster off the air. The wind also flattened parts of the Parliament House, The Guardian reports, and several landmark buildings are "extremely badly damaged or destroyed," Graham Kenna of Tonga's National Emergency Management told Radio New Zealand. "It's quite a bad situation." There are 176 islands in the Kingdom of Tonga, 40 of them inhabited, and officials fear the damage could be even worse in the more isolated islands, where information is slow to come out.
Gita was the worst cyclone to pass so close to Tonga's main islands in six decades. It's expected to hit Fiji's Lau Islands by midday Tuesday. Catherine Garcia
Giant earthquake off Alaska coast triggers tsunami alerts for the entire West Coast of the U.S. and Canada
A magnitude 7.9 earthquake off the coast of Alaska early Tuesday prompted NOAA's U.S. Tsunami Warning System to issue a tsunami warning for parts of Alaska and all of coastal British Columbia, and put the entire U.S. West Coast and Hawaii on tsunami watch. The earthquake struck 157 miles southeast of Chiniak, Alaska, at about 3:30 a.m. Alaska Standard Time (9:31 a.m. GMT), the U.S. Geological Survey said, and the National Weather Service (NWS) issued this map estimating when the tsunami would hit various areas. The NWS's Los Angeles office estimated that the tsunami would hit southwest California between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time.
Tue Jan 23 10:44:28 UTC 2018 event picture pic.twitter.com/k7EtHLoRAm
— NWS Tsunami Alerts (@NWS_NTWC) January 23, 2018
People who live in coastal Alaska and British Columbia should "move inland to higher ground," the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said. "Tsunami warnings mean that a tsunami with significant inundation is possible or is already occurring." The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that, "based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter." Japan's meteorological agency did not issue a tsunami alert but said it is monitoring the situation, Reuters reports. Peter Weber
Update 7:35 a.m. ET: The tsunami warnings and other alerts have now been canceled for Alaska, British Columbia, and the U.S. West Coast after "additional information and analysis have better defined the threat."
Authorities have raised the alert level for Mount Mayon to four on a scale of five, warning residents living near the most active volcano in the Philippines that a major eruption could happen within hours.
On Monday night, an ash plume rose up to 2 miles high, and airplanes were not allowed to fly in the vicinity. A week ago, the volcano started to rumble, and rocks and debris have been tumbling down to the villages below ever since. More than 30,000 people living near the volcano in Albay province have been moved to evacuation centers, and so far there are no reports of any deaths or injuries.
Mount Mayon is 210 miles southeast of Manila, and its worst eruption took place in 1814, when more than 1,200 people were killed and the entire town of Cagsawa was buried underneath volcanic mud. Catherine Garcia
Authorities have told 100,000 people living near Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali to leave their houses, fearing that the volcano will soon erupt.
Over the weekend, the volcano started to hurl ash nearly 10,000 feet into the air, and lava is visible inside the crater. Because it's too dangerous for airplanes to fly through volcanic ash, Bali's international airport has been closed for the past two days, stranding tens of thousands of visitors.
Mount Agung's last major eruption took place in 1963, killing around 1,100 people. Several residents have said they feel safe and don't want to leave their houses and livestock behind, The Associated Press reports, but a spokesman for Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency said "if necessary, we will forcibly evacuate them." It's possible that the volcano could keep its current level of activity for several weeks. Catherine Garcia
The death toll from Sunday's 7.3-magnitude earthquake near the Iranian border in northern Iraq has risen above 300, including six reported deaths in Iraq and 336 in Iran from the strong, shallow quake. Iranian state television, which reported the deaths and nearly 4,000 injuries, said both numbers are expected to rise as emergency responders reach remote areas hit by the earthquake. The epicenter was 217 miles north of Baghdad, but tremors were felt as far away Pakistan, Turkey, and Israel. You can see some of the wreckage, and an Iraqi Kurdish broadcaster experiencing the earthquake on live TV, in this BBC News roundup:
And for more information on the earthquake itself, you can watch the CNN report below. Peter Weber
UPDATE: 8:06 a.m.: Mexican civil defense chief Luis Felipe Puente had earlier said that 248 people were confirmed dead from the earthquake, but lowered the number overnight to 217. The toll is expected to continue to climb. Our original story appears below.
Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Mexico has killed at least 248 people, Mexican civil defense chief Luis Felipe Puente said, including at least 86 people in Mexico City, where the mayor said buildings collapsed in 44 locations. The earthquake's epicenter was about 76 miles southeast of the capital, near Raboso in Puebla state, the U.S. Geological Survey says, and Puente put Puebla's death toll at 43, plus 72 in Morelos state, 12 in the area outside central Mexico City, 4 in Guerrero and 1 in Oaxaca. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said at least 22 people, including 20 children, have been found dead in a collapsed school in Mexico City, and 30 children and eight adults are still missing.
Peña Nieto said late Tuesday that rescue efforts are ongoing and the main focus for the government, but that 40 percent of Mexico City and 60 percent of Morelos have no electricity. The 7.1 temblor struck 11 days after a massive magnitude 8.1 quake hit off the coast of Mexico, killing at least 98 people, and exactly 32 years after a terrible earthquake struck Mexico City, killing thousands. You can see footage of some of the damage, swaying buildings, and shattering windows in the CNN report below.
And for an eyewitness account, Richard Justin Permenter spoke with The Associated Press from Puebla on Tuesday. Peter Weber
The western half of Oregon is burning, with fire crews battling more than a dozen forest fires that have already singed hundreds of thousands of acres up and down the state. The blaze that's getting the most attention now, though, is the Eagle Creek fire, ignited from the Eagle Creek Trail in the scenic Columbia Gorge on Saturday, apparently by a 15-year-old boy from Washington who dropped fireworks down into dry forest. As of Tuesday night, more than 10,000 acres are on fire, a 45-mile stretch of Interstate 84 is closed to traffic, the Coast Guard has suspended marine travel along a 20-mile stretch of the Columbia River, and up to an inch of ash has fallen on nearby Portland.
This is what the Eagle Creek fire looked like from Monday night to Tuesday morning near Cascade Locks, from across the Columbia in Stevenson, Washington. According to The Oregonian, it was 0 percent contained as of Tuesday evening, and 457 people are working to contain it.
The fire, fed by dry weather and high winds, has jumped across the Columbia to Washington State, and prompted mandatory evacuations in east Multnomah County. Many significantly populated areas of Oregon have hazardous levels of smoke and particulate matter in the air. Oregon fire managers have reported no injuries or destroyed buildings yet, though firefighters spent hours protecting the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge from the encroaching blaze. "It's still threatened slightly, but we made a good save there," Portland Fire Department Lt. Damon Simmons said Tuesday morning.
Oregonians and visitors are coming to terms with the idea that the Columbia Gorge will be scarred for decades, and they are posting photos on social media to share what it looked like before Saturday. The Oregonian has rounded up some of the historic structures and natural treasures in the Eagle Creek fire's path.
The West Coast has been battling huge fires all summer, from British Columbia down to California, where the La Tuna fire — the largest in Los Angeles County history — is now 80 percent contained. Peter Weber
More than 1,000 are dead, Mumbai is flooded after unusually heavy monsoons in India, Nepal, Bangladesh
The annual monsoons in South Asia have been particularly heavy this summer, and at least 41 million people have been directly affected by landslides and flooding in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. More than 1,000 people have died from the rainstorms over the past few weeks, including at least 140 in Bangladesh, at least 143 in Nepal, and 850 or more in six states in India, according to Reuters' tally. After weeks of heavy rains in northern and eastern India, the torrential rains shifted to Mumbai over the weekend, causing heavy flooding and disruptions in India's financial capital on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"This is the severest flooding in a number of years," Francis Markus, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told The New York Times from Nepal's capital. Many of those killed or whose homes and farms were destroyed are among the region's poorest. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew over Bihar state last weekend, pledging millions of dollars in assistance, but "in Nepal and Bangladesh, the government simply doesn't have the resources," American Red Cross official Jono Anzalone tells NPR. Peter Weber