EDM Thursday Briefing: EgyptAir 804, Migrant Boat, Arctic Melting, GMO Mosquitos
Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 26, 2016: The mystery of the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 deepens, five die after a migrant boat capsizes off of Libya, scientists predict record-breaking Arctic melting this summer, and a biotech firm is asking for emergency FDA approval for its GMO mosquito that it says will stop the spread of Zika virus.
- It has now been a week since EgyptAir Flight 804 vanished from radar and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, and the specific details of the crash still remain a mystery. Egypt has contracted two foreign companies, one from France and one from Italy, to help efforts to locate the plane's black boxes. The flight recorders can typically emit pings for up to 30 days on battery power. Egyptian military forces have discovered debris from the missing plane, but the cause of the crash is still unknown.
- At least five people died after a boat carrying more than 500 migrants capsized off the coast of Libya. The large wooden fishing boat was overcrowded and reportedly rocking violently before capsizing. Italian Navy swimmers were able to rescue 562 of those aboard the boat. Upwards of 6,000 migrants have been rescued in recent days trying to reach Europe illegally from makeshift boats in the Mediterranean.
- Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are expecting record-breaking Arctic melting this summer. The first snowmelt of the year at the Barrow Observatory in Alaska occurred on May 13, which is the earliest snowmelt date in 73 years of keeping records. The state of Alaska in its entirety experienced a record-setting winter this year, as well, as temperatures averaged more than 11 degrees above normal.
- A biotech company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito (GMO) is asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency approval for possible use against the spread of Zika virus. Oxitec has developed a GMO male Aedes aegypti mosquito that reportedly mates with females but does not produce viable offspring. The company claims that this will halt the transmission of the disease.
- Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is seeking federal disaster assistance for two state counties that suffered damage from tornadoes, severe storms and flooding earlier in May. Fallin is asking the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer low-interest disaster loans to both homeowners and business owners for help repairing and replacing property that is not covered by insurance.
- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared an emergency over gas supply in the state. The unusual move was spurred by the West Shore petroleum pipeline shutdown in Wisconsin, the temporary Marathon refinery shutdown in Detroit and the Alberta wildfires. Snyder declared the emergency as one of the biggest driving weekends of the year approaches.
- Two new lava flows opened on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano yesterday, but the flows are not currently threatening any nearby communities. Kilauea is known as one of the world's most active volcanoes, and has been erupting on a regular basis for the better part of the last 33 years.
- Peru declared a state of emergency in 11 jungle districts due to widespread mercury poisoning. The ministry of environment believes that approximately 50,000 people are affected, many of whom live in remote regions of the Amazon. The mercury poisoning is reportedly the result of illegal gold mining in the region.
- A 4.1-magnitude earthquake struck Utah yesterday morning in the state's southern Uinta Mountains. The epicenter of the relatively small earthquake was 26 miles northwest of the small town of Duchesne. No damage or injuries were reported. Recently, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported results of a study that found that there is a 93 percent chance that a moderate earthquake quake would strike Utah in the next 50 years. The study referred to quakes of magnitude 5 or greater hitting the Wasatch Front region of the state.