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Liliana Santirso's blog

Sandy’s aftermath: Planning long-term relief in NYC, New Jersey

As big flakes of icy wet snow fell on streets still muddy from Hurricane Sandy’s devastating storm surge, Peter Vasquenz carried another black trash bag to the curb outside his mother’s home on Staten Island, N.Y. In it were pieces of ripped flooring and soggy drywall from the modest house that is decades old.

Tsunami hits Japan after 8.8 magnitude earthquake

An earthquake measuring 8.8 struck off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital Tokyo, causing "many injuries", major tsunami damage and at least one fire.
Fisherman Masakatsu Sakabe inspects the damage of a road following a 6.5-magnitude earthquake at a Makinohara port, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
Damage from a 2009 earthquake in Makinohara, Japan. The latest quake in the country was measured at magnitude 7.9 and triggered a tsunami warning

The Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed cars, trucks, houses and buildings being swept away by tsunami in Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture. Black smoke was seen billowing from a building in Odaiba, a Tokyo suburb, and bullet trains to the north of the country were halted.

Television showed cars bobbing in water along side fishing boats. A 50 cm tsunami hit Japan's northern coast.

"The building shook for what seemed a long time and many people in the newsroom grabbed their helmets and some got under their desks," Reuters correspondent Linda Sieg said.

"It was probably the worst I have felt since I came to Japan more than 20 years ago."

US officials said the 8.8-magnitude quake struck about 250 miles (400km) from Tokyo at a depth of 20 miles. The stock market extended its losses after the quake was announced.

New Zealand earthquake: Christchurch ONCE again

Wednesday 23 February 2011

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake occurred 10km south-east of Christchurch at 12:51, February 22, 2011. Depth (focal depth): 5km. The National Crisis Management Centre has been activated.

Considerable damage has been reported in the Christchurch Central Business District and in Lyttelton. There is a cordon around the central business district. Damage assessment is ongoing and over time, will present a better understanding of the extent of damage. Rescue work is likely to take days to complete.

As at 1700 23 February, there have been 37 aftershocks with a magnitude between 4 and 6, and many smaller ones. GNS Science advises that there may be more magnitude 5 or greater aftershocks in the next few days. Aftershocks are expected to to continue and this could lead to further building damage or collapse, as well as continued distruption to power, telecommunications and essential services.

Queensland,Australia facing Highest strenght Cyclone Yasi



Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Issued at 3:56 pm EST Wednesday 2 February 2011. Refer to Tropical Cyclone Advice Number 16.


Haiti one year on: Rape crisis festers on

Twelve months after the quake wrecked 350,000 homes and left at least 1.5 million people homeless, 87 per cent of the survivors are still living in dangerous tented camps.

Dozens of rapes are committed every day, and so much rubble is uncleared that what remains on the ground, clogging any serious reconstruction, would fill trucks which would stretch halfway round the world. All this in a country which, staggeringly, hosts tourists from cruise ships.

A new report published by ActionAid says: "In the capital Port-au-Prince, between 1.3 and 1.7 million people continue to live in increasingly squalid tents with little hope of moving to transitional shelters. Less than 30,000 of those displaced have found permanent homes. There is no strategic plan for shelter, land disputes are widespread and tonnes of rubble needs clearing, much of which is thought to contain human remains."

It added that "until the Government frees up the land needed, we are forced to spend donations on replacing tents and other piecemeal measures designed to help people get by in overcrowded camps".

Important: New England Journal of Medicine December 9th

The Origin of the Haitian Cholera Outbreak Strain
Chin CS, Sorenson J, Harris JB, Robins WP, Charles RC, Jean-Charles RR, Bullard J, Webster DR, Kasarskis A, Peluso P, Paxinos EE, Yamaichi Y, Calderwood SB, Mekalanos JJ, Schadt EE, y Waldor MK. NEJM December9th, 2010

A National Cholera Vaccine Stockpile — A New Humanitarian and Diplomatic Resource
Matthew K. Waldor, M.D., Ph.D., Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., and John D. Clemens, M.D.

Virulent Strain: Genome Analysis Suggests


"The analysis also suggests that the Asian strain that hit Haiti is especially virulent and raises the risk that it may supplant other strains circulating in Latin America and spread there, Waldor said. There is a need to increase the production of cholera vaccines, which are now in short supply, he said.

After the Haitian earthquake in January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that even with the extensive damage to the country’s poor sanitation system, there was not a great risk of a cholera outbreak because the disease hadn’t been seen there in so long, Waldor said.

“That was wrong,” he said. “They didn’t consider global movement of human beings.”

As a public health measure, people who travel from areas that have high cholera rates should be screened before traveling to regions where conditions could allow an epidemic to spread rapidly, he said."



Cholera in Haiti Came From South Asia, Genome Analysis Suggests

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The cholera epidemic that has killed 2,120 people and hospitalized 44,000 in Haiti probably was carried there by people who brought it from South Asia, according to an analysis of the bacteria’s genome.

Using tissue samples from patients in Haiti, scientists at Menlo Park-based Pacific Biosciences of California Inc. took only two days to map the pathogen’s genome, the set of genes that makes any organism unique. The Haitian strain is almost identical to types found in South Asia and differs greatly from those circulating in nearby Latin America, according to the analysis published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This suggests humans carried the Asian strain into the country, which hadn’t had a cholera outbreak in more than 100 years even with its desperate poverty and lack of sanitation, said Matthew Waldor, an author of the study. Better screening is needed of people traveling from areas with endemic cholera to regions where conditions could lead to an outbreak, he said.

“This strongly argues that cholera was introduced to Haiti not on an ocean current from Latin America but by human activities,” said Waldor, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “It also suggests we can prevent future Haitis by altering some policies.”

News in the Region: Jamaica...(Is this our true focus today???)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A French disease expert says there is strong evidence linking United Nations peacekeepers to a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed more than 2,000 people.

Renaud Piarroux says in a report that the most likely explanation for the outbreak is that Haiti's Artibonite river was contaminated by a base of UN troops from Nepal.

The scientist conducted his research on behalf of the French and Haitian governments. The Associated Press obtained the report today.

Cholera had not been detected in Haiti until late October. Nearly 100,000 people have been infected so far. The UN has denied that its peacekeepers were to blame for the outbreak.

Read more:

Haiti and D.R. Presidents will meet on December 14th to join efforts

Haiti President Rene Preval will meet with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez on December 14th to "join' efforts

On Tuesday, December 7, it was announced that President Leonel Fernandez of the DR and Haitian President, Rene Preval, will next week will hold a meeting of the Haitian-Dominican mixed commission, whose theme will be a joint struggle and fight against epidemic of cholera.

Haiti Prime Minister, Jean Max Bellerive, said the they want to join the Dominican Government’s efforts to control the increase of cholera, in addition to evaluating all actions adopted to control the disease and the health ministries of both countries will work together to see how both nations can combine their efforts to protect their people.

Bellerive noted that this disease was imported to Haiti, now Haiti doesn’t want to re-export it to other nations and on both sides of the Haitian-Dominican border opened up cholera treatment centers.

According to recent reports, the cholera epidemic in Haiti has killed 2,120 people, and more than 93,000 have been infected.

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