EDM Friday Briefing: Earthquake in Vanuatu, Drought in the Marshall Islands, Cyber Security in Cars
Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 29, 2016: The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu gets hit with a magnitude-7.0 earthquake, drought on the Marshall Islands worsens, cyber security in vehicles is under the spotlight, the Mississippi Gulf Coast floods, and USGS scientists look back at the Nepal earthquake.
- A magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck the Pacific nation of Vanuatu early Friday morning. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the quake occurred as a result of thrust faulting at or close to the boundary between the Australia and Pacific tectonic plates. A tsunami warning was issued but canceled after about two hours after the threat waned.
- President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for the Republic of the Marshall Islands due to ongoing severe drought. The action makes federal funding available for federal emergency relief and reconstruction assistance. The archipelago received just a quarter of its usual rainfall from November to February, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects drought conditions to persist in the coming months.
- As vehicles become more sophisticated and connected, they also become more vulnerable to cyber attacks. This fact compelled the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a thorough review of cyber security issues in vehicles that could impact passenger safety. The GAO identified current vulnerabilities in vehicles and recommended actions to mitigate the impact of the potential attacks.
- A flash flood emergency was declared along the Mississippi Gulf Coast yesterday after torrential downpours forced military vehicles to be deployed for water rescues. The mayor of Gulfport, MS declared a state of emergency due to widespread flooding after upwards of 12 inches of rain fell in the largest city on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.
- The USGS recently looked back at the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that devastated Nepal about a year earlier. Overall, losses from the quake included about 9,000 fatalities, 23,000 injuries, and about 700,000 damaged or destroyed homes in Nepal. However, some scientist believe that as bad as that situation was, it could have been much worse -- the highly populated city of Kathmandu and the surrounding valley held up very well when compared to the destruction that occurred in rural areas. In the end, USGS scientists believe that learning why Kathmandu held up as well as it did could help other regions increase their odds of surviving a strong earthquake with relatively little destruction.
- Hawaii officials reached a milestone combatting the state's dengue fever outbreak in that it has been 30 days since the last known infected person was contagious. There have been 263 confirmed dengue fever cases in Hawaii since September 2015. Earlier this month, Hawaii Governor David Ige extended the state's emergency period on mosquito-borne illnesses for an additional 60 days. The declaration covers all mosquito-borne illnesses that the state is working to combat, including Zika virus.
- The U.S. military reported that North Korea fired two intermediate range ballistic missiles yesterday, and both missile tests failed. These latest missile launches are the latest in a series of military exercises that North Korea has conducted in 2016 in violation of U.N. resolutions. The U.S. military said it tracked each of the two attempted launches, and neither posed a threat to North America.
- Portland, OR is struggling to deal with the growing problem of homelessness in the city. Nearly 2,000 people sleep outside in tents or on the streets every night, and city resident have recently been reporting increased theft and other crimes in or near homeless camps. Earlier this month, a group of Portland neighborhood associations and businesses sued the city of Portland and Mayor Charlie Hales for what they called "misguided and unlawful" policy on homeless camping in the city.
- California authorities arrested the brother of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook and two other relatives on charges of marriage fraud, conspiracy and lying under oath. Syed Raheel Farook is being charged with a marriage fraud conspiracy, while his wife, Tatiana Farook, and his wife's sister, Mariya Chernykh, were also arrested.