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Typhoon Dianmu leaves three dead, floods homes in S.Korea

New Zealand still experiencing 'significant' swine flu
Wellington (AFP) Aug 11, 2010 - New Zealand is still experiencing a significant level of swine flu, health authorities said Wednesday, despite the World Health Organization's declaration that the global pandemic was over. "While some countries have seen H1N1 virus decline or crowded out by other strains, this is not the case in New Zealand," the deputy director of public health, Darren Hunt, said. Four people are believed to have died from swine flu in New Zealand this year.

Hunt said there had been "significant outbreaks" in some areas of New Zealand, which had resulted in high levels of absenteeism from work and school and higher than normal hospital admissions. "The pandemic influenza strain is the predominant strain circulating this winter," he said. "We are seeing higher levels of hospitalisation in areas that weren't severely affected last year. "To date, there had been over 300 people admitted to hospital this year with confirmed H1N1, which includes over 30 people admitted to intensive care."

WHO Director General Margaret Chan told a telephone news conference from Geneva that H1N1 had "largely run its course". "The world is no longer in phase six of the pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period," she said. The WHO's top flu official, Keiji Fukuda, said the influenza virus was no longer considered capable of causing another pandemic, even if more severe outbreaks might occur in some countries. Swine flu has killed more than 18,449 people and affected some 214 countries and territories since it was uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April 2009, according to WHO data.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Aug 11, 2010
Torrential rain brought by the approach of Typhoon Dianmu has left three people dead and grounded dozens of flights in South Korea, the disaster control agency said Wednesday.

Two hikers drowned as they crossed a swollen stream in northwestern Seoul where 120 millimetres (five inches) of rain fell in the space of three hours late Tuesday, the National Emergency Management Agency said.

A driver died after his taxi was caught in a flooded waterway in Mapo district in western Seoul.

Some 130 homes were flooded nationwide, 74 flights were cancelled and 91 ferry trips suspended, the agency said.

In addition to the confirmed deaths, Yonhap news agency said a local TV journalist died in the southern port city of Busan on Wednesday, a day after he fell into the sea while reporting on the typhoon at a pier.

Dianmu made landfall on the south coast early Wednesday. It was expected to dump more rain late Wednesday as it passes through the south of the country towards the Sea of Japan.

earlier related report
Buoy deployment to study Pacific storms
Miami (UPI) Aug 10, 2010 - A scientific team says it will deploy instrument-carrying buoys southeast of Taiwan to study storm behavior in the typhoon-plagued Western Pacific.

Scientists and technicians from the University of Miami are joining researchers from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Environment Canada in a buoy deployment to better understand interactions between the ocean and atmosphere during typhoons, a university release said Tuesday.

Tandem buoy sets, consisting of the boat-shaped EASI (Extreme Air-Sea Interaction) buoy and the ASIS (Air-Sea Interaction Spar) buoy, will be used for the first time in the Pacific.

In the past, these buoy deployments have taken place in the Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season, and on separate experiments in the Southern Ocean and Labrador Sea, the release said.

The buoys will be at sea for three months measuring the momentum, heat and moisture exchange between the atmosphere and ocean in the midst of tropical cyclones.

earlier related report
Influenza A(H1N1): a timeline
Geneva (AFP) Aug 10, 2010 - The following is a timeline of the spread of swine flu, officially known as influenza A(H1N1), after the World Health Organisation on Tuesday announced the end of the pandemic, more than a year after it was declared.

2009:

- April 24: The WHO announces that around 800 suspected cases of so-called swine flu have been recorded in Mexico, along with seven cases in the United States.

- April 25: The WHO warns that the virus, identified as a member of the H1N1 family, has "pandemic potential."

- April 26: Health authorities step up vigilance measures around the world.

- April 27: First three cases are confirmed in Europe. The WHO raises its level of alert to four from three on a scale of six.

- April 28: The first cases in the Middle East.

- April 29: A 23-month-old Mexican child is the first confirmed fatality in the United States. The WHO raises its alert level to five and calls for preparations for an "imminent" pandemic.

- April 30: WHO adopts the term "influenza A(H1N1)" after veterinary experts point out that the virus is not occurring among pigs.

- May 2: The virus makes its appearance in Asia.

- May 20: The WHO says that A(H1N1) has officially contaminated 10,243 people in 41 countries and killed 80 people.

- June 11: The WHO raises its alert to the maximum level six and declares A(H1N1) the first flu pandemic of the 21st century. The UN body calls on pharmaceutical laboratories to produce vaccines against the virus.

- June 14: One death in Scotland, the first death outside the American continent.

- June 29: Denmark reports the first case of resistance to Tamiflu, considered to be the most effective treatment for the flu by the WHO. The virus continues to spread throughout the world with 11,000 new cases in three days.

- July 17: The WHO says that the swine flu pandemic is moving around the globe at an "unprecedented" speed.

- August 28: The WHO says that the swine flu virus has supplanted other viruses to establish itself as the most prevalent strain of flu.

- September 21: China becomes the first country in the world to launch a mass vaccination campaign.

- September 24: The WHO drops its forecast of needed vaccines to three billion doses from five billion a year.

- October 30: The flu has killed at least 5,700 people around the world, hitting in particular the northern hemisphere where vaccination campaigns are being put into place with the approach of winter.

- December 18: The number of dead passes 10,000, according to the WHO.

2010

- January 22: The WHO says the pandemic is in decline. It has killed at least 14,000 people around the world since emerging.

- April 21: A year after the outbreak, the epidemic has spread to 213 countries and territories. The WHO and national health authorities come under criticism for dramatising the threat of the flu and for the billions of dollars (euros) spent on buying medicines and vaccines.

- June 8: WHO chief Margaret Chan denies that she has been influenced by pharmaceutical firms in managing the flu crisis and denies allegations of a conflict of interest.

- August 10: The WHO declares the pandemic over.




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NASA's Hurricane Quest Set To Begin
Washington DC (SPX) Aug 10, 2010
In less than two weeks, NASA scientists will begin their quest for the holy grail of hurricane research. The exact conditions required to kickstart a tropical depression into a hurricane largely remain a mystery. Though scientists know many of the ingredients needed, it is unclear what processes ultimately drive depressions to form into the intense, spinning storms that lash the U.S. coast ... read more

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