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article imageEarthquakes and flash floods make for a bad weekend

By Anne Sewell     May 20, 2012 in World
With 6.0-6.2 magnitude earthquakes in Italy and Japan and flash floods in Afghanistan, it has become a heartbreaking weekend for many.
Northern Italy
Northern Italy has been struck by a rare 6.0 magnitude earthquake, which has killed at least five people and injured fifty others. The earthquake struck around 36 kms northwest of the city of Bologna and was followed by a powerful aftershock. Officials in the area report that one man died in Bordeno during the collapse of a warehouse during the earthquake. Two others were killed when a ceramics factory in Sant'Agostino di Ferrara caved in. A further two women died of heart attacks, apparently triggered by shock.
The earthquake struck at 4:04 am (02:04 GMT) and affected the cities of Ferrara, Verona, Modena and Mantua.
Besides the heartbreaking loss of life, there has been devastating damage to historic buildings in the area.
The last major earthquake to hit Italy was in 2009 when 300 people were killed in L'Aquila. While Italy frequently experiences seismic movements, earthquakes of this magnitude are rare.
The east coast of Japan has been hit by two shallow earthquakes within eight minutes today.
The first earthquake was magnitude 6.0 and the second was measured at 6.2 magnitude at 4:20 pm (07:20 GMT) off northeast Japan, followed by a tremor reading 5.7 at 4:28 pm. There are no reports of damage and no tsunami alert.
Both quakes were at a depth of 10kms, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The agency said in a statement, "Sea levels may change slightly due to the (first) earthquake but there is no fear of damage resulting from it."
Afghanistan's northern Sar-e-Pul province has been hit by flash floods, killing nineteen people and with sixty people reported missing.
According to government officials, over 1,000 houses have been destroyed. 10,000 people have been forced to take shelter in schools, mosques and a teacher training center in the area.
Sayed Faizullah Sadat, who is the national disaster director in the area, states, "Most of these families have lost their houses — all their property, their livelihoods."
The U.S. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance has reported that the water rose to 1.5 meters yesterday. They state that four humanitarian assessment teams had tried to access the city on Saturday, but without success.
Deputy provincial police chief, Sayed Jahangir says, "Most of the roads are blocked by the flooding. Hundreds of houses have been destroyed. We were able to move people to different places that we think will be safe."
There have additionally been reports of flash flooding in the northern Takhar province where two people are reported dead. According to a spokesman for the province, Mustafa Rasouli, 3,000 animals, including cows and sheep have also died and around 1,000 hectares of farmland have been destroyed in Taloqan and six other districts in the area. Rasouli stated, "Two thousand houses have been partially or completely destroyed."
Northern Afghanistan is prone to flash floods in spring, mainly due to heavy rains and also snow melt from the mountains.
Earlier this month flash floods hit the same province in northern Afghanistan killing around 25 people and 80 people were reported missing. The flash floods hit a wedding party on Sunday May 6. Video footage below:
Along with the NATO Summit and the "Ring-of-Fire" eclipse, this is definitely becoming a weekend of note.
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