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Israel Forest Fire Kills Dozens near Haifa – December 3rd, 2010

32.8N 34.9E

December 3rd, 2010 Category: Fires, Image of the day

Israel Forest Fire - December 3rd, 2010

Fire Detail

About 40 people have died in what is thought to be Israel’s largest ever forest fire, police have said. Many of the victims were prison guards traveling on a bus which was caught in the inferno in the Carmel Mountains near the northern city of Haifa.

Thousands of people, including prison inmates, have been evacuated from the area. Scores more have been injured, the ambulance service said. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has visited the affected area, said it was an “unprecedented disaster”.

Some 13,000 people have been evacuated from the area. Israeli media said it was the biggest forest fire in the country’s history, with 7,000 acres (2,800 hectares) of land destroyed by Thursday evening.

Israel is currently suffering a period of drought with no significant rain since the spring.

Robots Work to Stop Leak of Oil in Gulf – April 27th, 2010

29.0N 88.7W

April 27th, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day

Oil Leak (Multi-spectral/Radar composite), Gulf of Mexico - April 26th, 2010

Oil Leak (Multi-spectral/Radar composite), Gulf of Mexico - April 26th, 2010

Oil Leak Detail (Radar Image)

Oil Leak Detail (Radar Image)

Oil continued to pour into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday as the authorities waited to see if the quickest possible method of stopping the leaks would bring an end to what was threatening to become an environmental disaster.

Remote-controlled robots operating 5,000 feet under the ocean’s surface were more than a full day into efforts to seal off the oil well, which has been belching crude through leaks in a pipeline at the rate of 42,000 gallons a day. The leaks were found on Saturday, days after an oil rig to which the pipeline was attached exploded, caught on fire and sank in the gulf about 50 miles from the Louisiana coast.

The robots were trying to activate a device known as a blowout preventer, a 450-ton valve at the wellhead that is designed to shut off a well in the event of a sudden pressure release.

Officials had initially said that the operation, which began Sunday morning, would take 24 to 36 hours. But on Monday a Coast Guard spokesman said officials would keep trying as long as the efforts were feasible because “it’s the best option.” The other options – collecting the oil in a dome and routing it to the surface or drilling one or more relief wells – would take weeks or even several months to execute.

Wind has kept the spill from moving toward the coast. Officials said the spill had a 600-mile circumference Monday, but most of that was a thin sheen of oil-water mix. Only 3 percent of the area was crude oil with a “pudding-like” consistency, they said.

The wind was expected to change direction by Thursday, however, and the spill’s distance from the coast has not prevented a threat to marine life.

Oil Leak threatens Gulf of Mexico – April 26th, 2010

29.3N 88.3W

April 26th, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day

Gulf of Mexico - April 25th, 2010

Oil Leak (false colors), Gulf of Mexico - April 25th, 2010

Original Full Resolution Satellite Image

Original Satellite Image

Aerial photo of the area

Aerial photo of the area

An oil slick caused by the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico is developing into an environmental disaster.

It could take hours or it could take months to stop a 42,000 gallon a day oil leak polluting the Gulf of Mexico at the site of a wrecked drilling platform. Whether the environmental threat grows many times bigger depends on whether the oil company can turn the well completely off.

Crews are using robot submarines to activate valves at the well head in hopes of cutting off the leak, which threatens the Gulf Coast’s fragile ecosystem of shrimp, fish, birds and coral. If the effort fails, they’ll have to start drilling again.

The submarine work will take 24 to 36 hours, Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for BP Exploration and Production, said Sunday afternoon.

Oil continued to leak nearly a mile underwater Sunday at the site where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on Tuesday. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead.

For the second consecutive day, high waves prevented boats and equipment from going out to clean the spill. Airplanes sprayed chemicals to break up the oil.

The spill initially appeared to be easily manageable after the oil rig sank Thursday about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, but it has turned into a more serious environmental problem. Officials on Saturday discovered the leak, which is spewing as much as 1,000 barrels (42,000 gallons) of oil each day.

The oil spill has been growing – officials said the oily sheen on the surface of the gulf covered about 600 square miles Sunday. The environmental damage would be especially serious if it reaches land.

The spill was still about 70 miles from the mainland, but only about 30 miles from an important chain of barrier islands known as the Chandeleurs.

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