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TOPIC: natural disasters

This Happened

This Happened — September 19: Mexico City Earthquake

On this day in 1985, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Mexico City.

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How Natural Disasters Threaten The "Madan Sara," The Women Driving Haiti's Economy

The Madan Sara provide a vital service by collecting farmers’ produce and selling it in urban communities. But natural disasters and growing insecurity have threatened their way of life.

MANICHE — For more than 20 years, single mother Cedeniese Lexima has supported herself and her four children by buying produce from local farmers to sell in the southwestern town of Les Cayes. She is one of hundreds of Haitian women known as Madan Sara, who provide an essential link in the country’s food supply chain.

The Madan Sara, named after a migratory bird adept at foraging food, work together and rely on public transport to move local produce between communities.

“I am not part of any Madan Sara group or any state-owned organization,” Lexima explains. “We are the ‘left behinds,’ but we do our best to help each other out and always travel in groups, never on our own.” Lexima says the mayor’s office does not give them the same support, such as health insurance, that it affords to other workers.

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The Human Factor, From Voltaire To Earthquake Volunteers In Turkey

The earthquake in Turkey and Syria teach us about humility in the face of what we can't control — but we also surprise ourselves in responding to crisis.


PARIS — A few months after the Lisbon earthquake of November 1755, which destroyed almost all of the Portuguese capital, Voltaire published a long poem meditating on the metaphysical consequences of the disaster.

"Lisbon is ruined, and they dance in Paris," he writes. Today, Turkey is devastated, and there are protests in Paris. An event of this magnitude, whose seismic wave was felt around the world, deserves more than just the grim daily count of victims — now above 45,000.

Yes, the fate of the Anatolia region, the cradle of our Indo-European languages is also ours.

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The Next Pandemic May Be Closer Than You Think

After COVID-19, similar crises could arise sooner rather than later. Can we really afford — and not just from an economic standpoint — to keep taking the same approach?


BERLIN — By now we've got the good news from the pharmaceutical industry: It has developed coronavirus vaccines heading into mass-production. This heralds the start of what may prove to be the greatest immunization effort in world history. Across the globe, millions of people will be vaccinated against coronavirus every day, and then, in summer 2021, or autumn at the latest, the pandemic will be over.

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Farid Kahhat

A Vicious Cycle of Poverty, Violence And Natural Disasters


LIMA — Peruvian historian Javier Puente's latest research includes some very interesting maps. The first (and most extensive) covers the area affected by drought as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon between 1982 and 1983 (when it was unusually intense). The second, relying on data from Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Committee, shows the areas that saw the highest incidence of political violence during the state's war against the Maoist insurgent group Shining Path.

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Massimo Vincenzi

Earthquake Risks, Italy Must Rise United From The Rubble


NORCIA — Every tragedy has its symbol, a photograph, often, that sticks in people's minds and encapsulates with profound immediacy the raw experience at hand. Sunday's earthquake in Central Italy is no exception.

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food / travel
Mattia Feltri

This Devastated Italian Town Is About People Not Pasta

Foreign journalists have flocked to Amatrice after the Aug. 24 earthquake, focusing on the spaghetti all'amatriciana dish that the town was famous for. But this is no time for folklore.

AMATRICE — In the immediate aftermath of last week's devastating earthquake in central Italy, Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi said his town, one of the worst-hit, "no longer exists."

As we survey the damage, that statement couldn't hold truer. Amatrice has been reduced to rubble. The tourism industry — Amatrice's lifeblood — has been decimated. More importantly, dozens of its residents were killed by last Wednesday's quake, including children who represented the town's future.

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Taliban Attacks Kabul, Putin "Owns" Russia, Trump Or Kim?


A powerful explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed at least 28 people this morning, AP quotes a government official as saying. According to the BBC, the suicide blast from a vehicle injured at least 329 people, some critically. Gunmen then stormed the area, and some news outlets are reporting that a gunfight is still ongoing. The Taliban claimed the attack, and has promised to launch a "spring offensive" with "large-scale attacks." This morning's bombing happened during rush hour in the busy neighborhood of Pul-e-Mahmud.

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Von Holger Kroker

A High-Tech Map Of The Himalayas Could Save Your Life

Nepal has commissioned meteorologists and geologists to remap the wind systems, mountains and valleys on the "Roof of the World." It could help us predict natural disasters.

JOMSOM Air traffic usually comes to a standstill at 10 o’clock in the morning at Nepal's Jomsom Airport, known as one of the world's most dangerous airfields. Turbulence, caused by thermal winds, is a daily occurrence in the valley that runs all the way from the gently rolling hills of Nepal up into the heart of the mountain range, which stands at over 26,000 feet.

The sun heats up the mountainsides, and the winds in the valley below begin to rise. At some point, the winds reach gale force. “Solar radiation causes incredibly strong wind systems to develop, up to wind force 8, which equals 43 miles per hour,” says glider pilot Jona Keimer. At certain times, squalls and turbulence make it impossible to take off or land.

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